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Biodegradation of dimethyl phthalate by Sphingomonas sp. isolated from phthalic-acid-degrading aerobic granules

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Phthalic acid esters (PAEs) contamination in water, air, and soil is one of the major environmental concerns in many countries. Besides the PAE biodegradation process, the PAE degrading bacteria have become one of the focuses of study. This study reports the successful isolation of one kind of indigenous bacterium PA-02 from phthalic acid (PA)-degrading aerobic granules. Based on its 16S ribosomal DNA sequence, isolate PA-02 was identified as Sphingomonas genus with 100% similarity to Sphingomonas sp. strain D84532. Strain PA-02 was a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium with strong auto-aggregation ability. In particular, the strain PA-02 possessed PAE-degrading ability without acclimation. Results of growth tests showed that strain PA-02 could degrade dimethyl phthalate (DMP), dibutyl phthalate, and diethylhexyl phthalate. The specific degradation rates of DMP and PA were concentration-dependent with maximum values of 0.4 g-DMP g−1 biomass h−1 and 1.3 g-PA g−1 biomass h−1, respectively. Kinetic studies also revealed that PA-02 was robust under high concentrations of DMP and PA. Even when the PA concentration was increased to 1,000.0 mg l−1, the specific PA degradation rate was about 0.25 g-PA g−1 biomass h−1. The corresponding value for DMP was 0.067 g-DMP g−1 biomass h−1 at 1,000 mg l−1.

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We thank Mr. C.L. Cheah for correcting the language.

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Correspondence to Ping Zeng.

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Zeng, P., Moy, B.Y., Song, Y. et al. Biodegradation of dimethyl phthalate by Sphingomonas sp. isolated from phthalic-acid-degrading aerobic granules. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 80, 899–905 (2008).

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  • PAEs degradation
  • Dimethyl phthalate
  • 16S rDNA
  • Sphingomonas
  • Kinetics