, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 437–445 | Cite as

Effect of carbon starvation on toluene degradation activity by toluene monooxygenase-expressing bacteria

  • David R. Johnson
  • Joonhong Park
  • Jerome J. Kukor
  • Linda M. Abriola


Subsurface bacteria commonly exist in a starvation state with only periodic exposure to utilizable sources of carbon and energy. In this study, the effect of carbon starvation on aerobic toluene degradation was quantitatively evaluated with a selection of bacteria representing all the known toluene oxygenase enzyme pathways. For all the investigated strains, the rate of toluene biodegradation decreased exponentially with starvation time. First-order deactivation rate constants for TMO-expressing bacteria were approximately an order of magnitude greater than those for other oxygenase-expressing bacteria. When growth conditions (the type of growth substrate and the type and concentration of toluene oxygenase inducer) were varied in the cultures prior to the deactivation experiments, the rate of deactivation was not significantly affected, suggesting that the rate of deactivation is independent of previous substrate/inducer conditions. Because TMO-expressing bacteria are known to efficiently detoxify TCE in subsurface environments, these findings have significant implications for in situ TCE bioremediation, specifically for environments experiencing variable growth-substrate exposure conditions.


aromatic oxygenase carbon starvation TCE co-metabolism toluene oxidizing bacteria 



ammonia monooxygenase


basal salt medium


colony forming unit


methane monooxygenase




toluene dioxygenase


toluene monooxygenase




tryptone nutrient agar


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We are grateful to Malcolm S. Shields, University of South Florida, for providing Burkholderia cepacia strains G4 and G4-PR131, and to Fredrick D. Bost, Rutgers University, for useful discussion. This research was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Basic Research Program (Grant P42-ES-04911). The content of this report does not necessarily represent the views of the agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Medaia Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Johnson
    • 1
  • Joonhong Park
    • 2
  • Jerome J. Kukor
    • 3
    • 4
  • Linda M. Abriola
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Michigan Ann ArborUSA
  2. 2.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringYonsei UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the EnvironmentRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Sciences, Cooks CollegeRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  5. 5.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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