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1.  Aerobic Degradation of N-Methyl-4-Nitroaniline (MNA) by Pseudomonas sp. Strain FK357 Isolated from Soil 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75046.
N-Methyl-4-nitroaniline (MNA) is used as an additive to lower the melting temperature of energetic materials in the synthesis of insensitive explosives. Although the biotransformation of MNA under anaerobic condition has been reported, its aerobic microbial degradation has not been documented yet. A soil microcosms study showed the efficient aerobic degradation of MNA by the inhabitant soil microorganisms. An aerobic bacterium, Pseudomonas sp. strain FK357, able to utilize MNA as the sole carbon, nitrogen, and energy source, was isolated from soil microcosms. HPLC and GC-MS analysis of the samples obtained from growth and resting cell studies showed the formation of 4-nitroaniline (4-NA), 4-aminophenol (4-AP), and 1, 2, 4-benzenetriol (BT) as major metabolic intermediates in the MNA degradation pathway. Enzymatic assay carried out on cell-free lysates of MNA grown cells confirmed N-demethylation reaction is the first step of MNA degradation with the formation of 4-NA and formaldehyde products. Flavin-dependent transformation of 4-NA to 4-AP in cell extracts demonstrated that the second step of MNA degradation is a monooxygenation. Furthermore, conversion of 4-AP to BT by MNA grown cells indicates the involvement of oxidative deamination (release of NH2 substituent) reaction in third step of MNA degradation. Subsequent degradation of BT occurs by the action of benzenetriol 1, 2-dioxygenase as reported for the degradation of 4-nitrophenol. This is the first report on aerobic degradation of MNA by a single bacterium along with elucidation of metabolic pathway.
PMCID: PMC3792944  PMID: 24116023
2.  Biodegradation of the Allelopathic Chemical m-Tyrosine by Bacillus aquimaris SSC5 Involves the Homogentisate Central Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75928.
m-Tyrosine is an amino acid analogue, exuded from the roots of fescue grasses, which acts as a potent allelopathic and a broad spectrum herbicidal chemical. Although the production and toxic effects of m-tyrosine are known, its microbial degradation has not been documented yet. A soil microcosm study showed efficient degradation of m-tyrosine by the inhabitant microorganisms. A bacterial strain designated SSC5, that was able to utilize m-tyrosine as the sole source of carbon, nitrogen, and energy, was isolated from the soil microcosm and was characterized as Bacillus aquimaris. Analytical methods such as HPLC, GC-MS, and 1H-NMR performed on the resting cell samples identified the formation of 3-hydroxyphenylpyruvate (3-OH-PPA), 3-hydroxyphenylacetate (3-OH-PhAc), and homogentisate (HMG) as major intermediates in the m-tyrosine degradation pathway. Enzymatic assays carried out on cell-free lysates of m-tyrosine-induced cells confirmed transamination reaction as the first step of m-tyrosine degradation. The intermediate 3-OH-PhAc thus obtained was further funneled into the HMG central pathway as revealed by a hydroxylase enzyme assay. Subsequent degradation of HMG occurred by ring cleavage catalyzed by the enzyme homogentisate 1, 2-dioxygenase. This study has significant implications in terms of understanding the environmental fate of m-tyrosine as well as regulation of its phytotoxic effect by soil microorganisms.
PMCID: PMC3788032  PMID: 24098407
3.  Metabolism of 2-Chloro-4-Nitroaniline via Novel Aerobic Degradation Pathway by Rhodococcus sp. Strain MB-P1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62178.
2-chloro-4-nitroaniline (2-C-4-NA) is used as an intermediate in the manufacture of dyes, pharmaceuticals, corrosion inhibitor and also used in the synthesis of niclosamide, a molluscicide. It is marked as a black-listed substance due to its poor biodegradability. We report biodegradation of 2-C-4-NA and its pathway characterization by Rhodococcus sp. strain MB-P1 under aerobic conditions. The strain MB-P1 utilizes 2-C-4-NA as the sole carbon, nitrogen, and energy source. In the growth medium, the degradation of 2-C-4-NA occurs with the release of nitrite ions, chloride ions, and ammonia. During the resting cell studies, the 2-C-4-NA-induced cells of strain MB-P1 transformed 2-C-4-NA stoichiometrically to 4-amino-3-chlorophenol (4-A-3-CP), which subsequently gets transformed to 6-chlorohydroxyquinol (6-CHQ) metabolite. Enzyme assays by cell-free lysates prepared from 2-C-4-NA-induced MB-P1 cells, demonstrated that the first enzyme in the 2-C-4-NA degradation pathway is a flavin-dependent monooxygenase that catalyzes the stoichiometric removal of nitro group and production of 4-A-3-CP. Oxygen uptake studies on 4-A-3-CP and related anilines by 2-C-4-NA-induced MB-P1 cells demonstrated the involvement of aniline dioxygenase in the second step of 2-C-4-NA degradation. This is the first report showing 2-C-4-NA degradation and elucidation of corresponding metabolic pathway by an aerobic bacterium.
PMCID: PMC3629101  PMID: 23614030
4.  Cloning of a Novel 6-Chloronicotinic Acid Chlorohydrolase from the Newly Isolated 6-Chloronicotinic Acid Mineralizing Bradyrhizobiaceae Strain SG-6C 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e51162.
A 6-chloronicotinic acid mineralizing bacterium was isolated from enrichment cultures originating from imidacloprid-contaminated soil samples. This Bradyrhizobiaceae, designated strain SG-6C, hydrolytically dechlorinated 6-chloronicotinic acid to 6-hydroxynicotinic acid, which was then further metabolised via the nicotinic acid pathway. This metabolic pathway was confirmed by growth and resting cell assays using HPLC and LC-MS studies. A candidate for the gene encoding the initial dechlorination step, named cch2 (for 6-chloronicotinic acid chlorohydrolase), was identified using genome sequencing and its function was confirmed using resting cell assays on E. coli heterologously expressing this gene. The 464 amino acid enzyme was found to be a member of the metal dependent hydrolase superfamily with similarities to the TRZ/ATZ family of chlorohydrolases. We also provide evidence that cch2 was mobilized into this bacterium by an Integrative and Conjugative Element (ICE) that feeds 6-hydroxynicotinic acid into the existing nicotinic acid mineralization pathway.
PMCID: PMC3511419  PMID: 23226482
5.  Branching of the p-nitrophenol (PNP) degradation pathway in burkholderia sp. Strain SJ98: Evidences from genetic characterization of PNP gene cluster 
AMB Express  2012;2:30.
Aerobic microbial degradation of p-nitrophenol (PNP) has been classically shown to proceed via ‘Hydroquinone (HQ) pathway’ in Gram-negative bacteria, whereas in Gram-positive PNP degraders it proceed via ‘Benzenetriol (BT) pathway’. These pathways are characterized by the ring cleavage of HQ and BT as terminal aromatic intermediates respectively. Earlier reports on PNP degradation have indicated these pathways to be mutually exclusive. We report involvement of both ‘HQ’ and ‘BT’ ring cleavage pathways in PNP degradation by Burkholderia sp. strain SJ98. Genetic characterization of an ~41 Kb DNA fragment harboring PNP degradation gene cluster cloned and sequenced from strain SJ98 showed presence of multiple orfs including pnpC and pnpD which corresponded to previously characterized ‘benzenetriol-dioxygenase (BtD)’ and ‘maleylacetate reductase (MaR)’ respectively. This gene cluster also showed presence of pnpE1 and pnpE2, which shared strong sequence identity to cognate sub-units of ‘hydroquinone dioxygenase’ (HqD). Heterologous expression and biochemical characterization ascertained the identity of PnpE1 and PnpE2. In in vitro assay reconstituted heterotetrameric complex of PnpE1 and PnpE2 catalyzed transformation of hydroquinone (HQ) into corresponding hydroxymuconic semialdehyde (HMS) in a substrate specific manner. Together, these results clearly establish branching of PNP degradation in strain SJ98. We propose that strain SJ98 presents a useful model system for future studies on evolution of microbial degradation of PNP.
PMCID: PMC3485097  PMID: 22681853
P-nitrophenol; Hydroquinone dioxygenase; PNP pathway; Burkholderia sp SJ98
6.  Chemotaxis of Burkholderia sp. Strain SJ98 towards chloronitroaromatic compounds that it can metabolise 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:19.
Burkholderia sp. strain SJ98 is known for its chemotaxis towards nitroaromatic compounds (NACs) that are either utilized as sole sources of carbon and energy or co-metabolized in the presence of alternative carbon sources. Here we test for the chemotaxis of this strain towards six chloro-nitroaromatic compounds (CNACs), namely 2-chloro-4-nitrophenol (2C4NP), 2-chloro-3-nitrophenol (2C3NP), 4-chloro-2-nitrophenol (4C2NP), 2-chloro-4-nitrobenzoate (2C4NB), 4-chloro-2-nitrobenzoate (4C2NB) and 5-chloro-2-nitrobenzoate (5C2NB), and examine its relationship to the degradation of such compounds.
Strain SJ98 could mineralize 2C4NP, 4C2NB and 5C2NB, and co-metabolically transform 2C3NP and 2C4NB in the presence of an alternative carbon source, but was unable to transform 4C2NP under these conditions. Positive chemotaxis was only observed towards the five metabolically transformed CNACs. Moreover, the chemotaxis was induced by growth in the presence of the metabolisable CNAC. It was also competitively inhibited by the presence of nitroaromatic compounds (NACs) that it could metabolise but not by succinate or aspartate.
Burkholderia sp. strain SJ98 exhibits metabolic transformation of, and inducible chemotaxis towards CNACs. Its chemotactic responses towards these compounds are related to its previously demonstrated chemotaxis towards NACs that it can metabolise, but it is independently inducible from its chemotaxis towards succinate or aspartate.
PMCID: PMC3293717  PMID: 22292983
7.  Development of an HPLC method for determination of pentachloronitrobenzene, hexachlorobenzene and their possible metabolites 
BMC Chemical Biology  2011;11:2.
Pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are highly toxic and widespread in every environmental compartment. Some of metabolic products such as amino/nitro containing chlorinated aromatic compounds can be determined by gas chromatography coupled with electron capture detector (GC-ECD). However, it is difficult to identify some of chlorophenolic and chloroquinolic intermediates produced from PCNB and HCB by the above mentioned technique. Therefore, for analysis of these compounds and their metabolites, we have developed a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) based method.
The extraction of PCNB and HCB from soil and minimal salt medium was carried out with ethyl acetate and hexane respectively with good recoveries (98% for PCNB and 97% for HCB). The validation of the proposed extraction and HPLC method was done by analysis of PCNB and HCB biodegradation and their metabolites identification from anaerobic enriched soil samples.
A rapid, sensitive and simple HPLC based analytical method was developed for the analysis of PCNB, HCB and their possible intermediates.
PMCID: PMC3341572  PMID: 22112041

Results 1-7 (7)