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Biodegradation and biotransformation of groundwater pollutant mixtures by Mycobacterium vaccae.

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  • Research Article
  • Chemistry


Mycobacterium vaccae can catabolize a number of major groundwater pollutants. When added singly, acetone, cyclohexane, styrene, benzene, ethylbenzene, propylbenzene, dioxane, and 1,2-dichloroethylene can be catabolized by M. vaccae. Catabolism of a number of these chemicals was monitored by gas-chromatographic analysis. Gas-chromatographic analysis indicated that the products of benzene degradation are phenol and hydroquinone. The products of chlorobenzene and ethylbenzene degradation are 4-chlorophenol and 4-ethylphenol. The extent that some compounds were catabolized when present as mixtures was also investigated. When toluene and benzene were present concomitantly, toluene was catabolized and benzene oxidation was delayed. Although toluene promoted the degradation of styrene, a lower rate of toluene degradation occurred when styrene was present. Both 4-chlorophenol and 4-ethylphenol had an antagonistic effect on the ability of M. vaccae to degrade other aromatic compounds. Studies with [14C]benzene indicated that M. vaccae can mineralize small amounts of this compound. These results suggest that components in mixtures may have a positive or a negative effect on the rates of biodegradation of other pollutants.

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