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Appl Microbiol. 1975 June; 29(6): 787–794.
PMCID: PMC187081

Degradation of Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid by Microbial Populations from an Aerated Lagoon

Abstract

The ferric chelate of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) was biologically degraded by a mixed population of microorganisms present in an aerated lagoon receiving this chemical in its feed. As determined radiorespirometrically, 28% of the acetate-2-C and 30% of the ethylene position of the ammonium ferric chelate of [14C]EDTA was recovered as 14CO2 after 5 days. In a separate experiment using gas liquid chromatography and the sodium ferric chelate, as much as 89% disappearance of EDTA (0.1% wt/vol) was observed during a similar time period. Optimum 14CO2 evolution was observed at a pH value between 7 and 8 and at room temperature. Degradation of NH4Fe-[2-14C]EDTA was stimulated by the addition of either unlabeled NaFe-EDTA, nitrilotriacetic acid or ethylenediamine, and inhibited by the addition of a variety of different sugars and amino acids. Consistent with the biological nature of this degradation, little or no 14CO2 evolution was observed after heat treatment of the microorganisms at 100 C for 10 min, or after the addition of formalin or antibiotics to the incubation mixtures. Gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectral analyses were performed to demonstrate EDTA disappearance and to identify various possible intermediates of EDTA degradation.

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