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Chemosphere. 2008 Aug;73(1):126-32. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.04.055. Epub 2008 Jun 11.

Extensive biodegradation of polychlorinated biphenyls in Aroclor 1242 and electrical transformer fluid (Askarel) by natural strains of microorganisms indigenous to contaminated African systems.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.


Evidence for substantial aerobic degradation of Aroclor 1242 and Askarel fluid by newly characterized bacterial strains belonging to the Enterobacter, Ralstonia and Pseudomonas genera is presented. The organisms exhibited degradative activity in terms of total PCB/Askarel degradation, degradation of individual congeners and diversity of congeners attacked. Maximal degradation by the various isolates of Askarel ranged from 69% to 86% whereas, Aroclor 1242, with the exception of Ralstonia sp. SA-4 (9.7%), was degraded by 37% to 91%. PCB analysis showed that at least 45 of the representative congeners in Aroclor 1242 were extensively transformed by benzoate-grown cells without the need for biphenyl as an inducer of the upper degradation pathway. In incubations with Aroclor 1242, no clear correlation was observed between percentage of congener transformed and the degree of chlorination, regardless of the presence or absence of biphenyl. Recovery of significant but nonstoichiometric amounts of chloride from the culture media showed partial dechlorination of congeners and suggested production of partial degradation products. Addition of biphenyl evidently enhanced dechlorination of the mixture by some isolates. With the exception of Ralstonia sp. SA-5, chloride released ranged from 24% to 60% in the presence of biphenyl versus 0.35% to 15% without biphenyl.

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