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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 January; 62(1): 94–99.
PMCID: PMC167777

Degradation of cocaine by a mixed culture of Pseudomonas fluorescens MBER and Comamonas acidovorans MBLF.


A mixed culture that could utilize cocaine as the sole source of carbon and energy for growth was isolated by selective enrichment. The individual microorganisms within this mixed culture were identified as Pseudomonas fluorescens (termed MBER) and Comamonas acidovorans (termed MBLF). Each microorganism was shown to be unable to grow to any appreciable extent on 10 mM cocaine in the absence of the other. C. acidovorans MBLF was found to possess an inducible cocaine esterase which catalyzed the hydrolysis of cocaine to ecgonine methyl ester and benzoate. C. acidovorans was capable of growth on benzoate at concentrations below 5 mM but was unable to metabolize ecgonine methyl ester. P. fluorescens MBER was capable of growth on either benzoate as the sole source of carbon or ecgonine methyl ester as the sole source of carbon and nitrogen. P. fluorescens MBER was found to initiate the degradation of ecgonine methyl ester via ecgonine, pseudoecgonine, and pseudoecgonyl-coenzyme A. Subcellular studies resulted in the identification of an ecgonine methyl esterase, an ecgonine epimerase, and a pseudoecgonyl-coenzyme A synthetase which were induced by growth on ecgonine methyl ester or ecgonine. Further metabolism of the ecgonine moiety is postulated to involve nitrogen debridging, with the production of carbonyl-containing intermediates.

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