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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1989 Dec;55(12):3085-90.

Action of a fluoranthene-utilizing bacterial community on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon components of creosote.

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  • 1Microbial Ecology and Biotechnology Branch, Environmental Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561.


Cultures enriched by serial transfer through a mineral salts medium containing fluoranthene were used to establish a stable, seven-member bacterial community from a sandy soil highly contaminated with coal tar creosote. This community exhibited an ability to utilize fluoranthene as the sole carbon source for growth, as demonstrated by increases in protein concentration and changes in absorption spectra when grown on fluoranthene in liquid culture. Biotransformation of other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was verified by demonstrating their disappearance from an artificial PAH mixture by capillary gas chromatography. When grown on fluoranthene as the sole carbon source and subsequently exposed to fluoranthene plus 16 additional PAHs typical of those found in creosote, this community transformed all PAHs present in this defined mixture. After 3 days of incubation, 13 of the original 17 PAH components were degraded to levels below the limit of detection (10 ng/liter). Continued incubation resulted in extensive degradation of the remaining four compounds. The ability of this community to utilize a high-molecular-weight PAH as the sole carbon source, in conjunction with its ability to transform a diverse array of PAHs, suggests that it may be of value in the bioremediation of environments contaminated with PAHs, such as those impacted by creosote.

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