, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 473–480 | Cite as

Selectivity among organic sulfur compounds in one- and two-liquid-phase cultures of Rhodococcus sp. strain JVH1

  • Kathlyn M. Kirkwood
  • Julia M. Foght
  • Murray R. Gray
Original Paper


The selectivity of Rhodococcus sp. strain JVH1 among selected sulfidic and thiophenic compounds was investigated in both single-liquid-phase (aqueous) cultures and in two-liquid-phase cultures, where the sulfur compounds were dissolved in 2,2,4,4,6,8,8-heptamethylnonane as the immiscible organic carrier phase. In the single-liquid-phase cultures, Rhodococcus sp. strain JVH1 showed a preference for benzyl sulfide over both 1,4-dithiane and benzothiophene. An increased lag was observed in the degradation of benzyl sulfone and benzothiophene sulfone when both compounds were present. These results were consistent with a competitive inhibition mechanism, affecting both sulfur oxidation and carbon–sulfur bond cleavage. In the two-liquid-phase cultures, the effect of partitioning between the two liquid phases dominated the desulfurization activity of the culture. This partitioning resulted in an apparent absence of selectivity, as well as decreases in lag time, extent of degradation, and time to completion of degradation. Desulfurization activity also depended on the growth phase of the cultures. Mass transfer rate limitations were not observed at the low degradation rates of 0.02 mmol day-1 l−1. Owing to the importance of partitioning, Rhodococcus sp. strain JVH1 is predicted to show nonselective activity towards the sulfur species in a whole crude oil.


Competitive inhibition Crude oil Heptamethylnonane Organosulfur compounds Partitioning Substrate selectivity 






This work was supported by NSERC and by the Alberta Energy Research Institute through the COURSE program. Rhodococcus sp. strain JVH1 was provided by the National Centre for Upgrading Technology. We also thank Sara Ebert for experimental assistance, and Debbi Coy for help with the acetate analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathlyn M. Kirkwood
    • 1
  • Julia M. Foght
    • 2
  • Murray R. Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Materials EngineeringUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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