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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2005 Jun;16(3):282-90.

Biodegradation and Rhodococcus--masters of catabolic versatility.

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  • 1School of Biology and Biochemistry and The QUESTOR Centre, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast BT9 5AG, Northern Ireland, UK.


The genus Rhodococcus is a very diverse group of bacteria that possesses the ability to degrade a large number of organic compounds, including some of the most difficult compounds with regard to recalcitrance and toxicity. They achieve this through their capacity to acquire a remarkable range of diverse catabolic genes and their robust cellular physiology. Rhodococcus appear to have adopted a strategy of hyper-recombination associated with a large genome. Notably, they harbour large linear plasmids that contribute to their catabolic diversity by acting as 'mass storage' for a large number of catabolic genes. In addition, there is increasing evidence that multiple pathways and gene homologues are present that further increase the catabolic versatility and efficiency of Rhodococcus.

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