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Characterization of estrogen-degrading bacteria isolated from an artificial sandy aquifer with ultrafiltered secondary effluent as the medium


This study investigated the aerobic and anoxic biodegradation of four estrogens [estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), estriol (E3), and the synthetic 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2)] in microcosms constructed with marine sand and ulftrafiltered (UF) secondary effluent. Three estrogen-degrading bacteria, LHJ1, LHJ3, and CYH, were isolated. Based on gram-stain morphology and 16S rRNA sequence homology, LHJ1 and LHJ3 belong to the genus Acinetobacter and Agromyces, respectively; CYH matched to 95% with the genus Sphingomonas. Aerobically LHJ3 degrades E3, CYH degrades E1, and all three isolates oxidize E2 to E1. Under anoxic conditions, CYH degrades E1 and LHJ3 degrades E2, whereas E3 and EE2 were not degraded by the three isolates; EE2 was transformed in microcosms incubated with site ground water. The degradation kinetics of E1 and E2 by CYH and E2 by LHJ3 under aerobic conditions was linearly correlated with the initial concentration, which ranged from 50 to 2,000 μg/l. The degradation of E1 by CYH under anoxic conditions followed Michaelis–Menten kinetics. 16α-Hydroxyestrone was found to be a transient transformation product of E3 under aerobic conditions.

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This study was supported by the Agency for Science and Technology, Singapore (ASTAR) and Nanyang Technological University. We would like to thank Yuehua Chen, Jason Leong, and Lim Han Liew for the assistance in the isolation work and Shuang Xie and Tiong Gim Aw for their assistance in microbial counting.

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Correspondence to Karina Yew-Hoong Gin.

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Ke, J., Zhuang, W., Gin, K.Y. et al. Characterization of estrogen-degrading bacteria isolated from an artificial sandy aquifer with ultrafiltered secondary effluent as the medium. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 75, 1163–1171 (2007).

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  • Estrogens
  • Biodegradation
  • Bacteria
  • Isolation
  • Tropical aquifer