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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1988 October; 54(10): 2549–2555.
PMCID: PMC204312

Microbial metabolism of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: isolation and characterization of a pyrene-degrading bacterium.


Microbiological analyses of sediments located near a point source for petrogenic chemicals resulted in the isolation of a pyrene-mineralizing bacterium. This isolate was identified as a Mycobacterium sp. on the basis of its cellular and colony morphology, gram-positive and strong acid-fast reactions, diagnostic biochemical tests, 66.6% G + C content of the DNA, and high-molecular-weight mycolic acids (C58 to C64). The mycobacterium mineralized pyrene when grown in a mineral salts medium supplemented with nutrients but was unable to utilize pyrene as a sole source of carbon and energy. The mycobacterium grew well at 24 and 30 degrees C and minimally at 35 degrees C. No growth was observed at 5 or 42 degrees C. The mycobacterium grew well at salt concentrations up to 4%. Pyrene-induced Mycobacterium cultures mineralized 5% of the pyrene after 6 h and reached a maximum of 48% mineralization within 72 h. Treatment of induced and noninduced cultures with chloramphenicol showed that pyrene-degrading enzymes were inducible in this Mycobacterium sp. This bacterium could also mineralize other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and alkyl- and nitro-substituted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including naphthalene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, 3-methylcholanthrene, 1-nitropyrene, and 6-nitrochrysene. This is the first report of a bacterium able to extensively mineralize pyrene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons containing four aromatic rings.

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