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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2003 Feb;67(2):225-43.

Genetics of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolism in diverse aerobic bacteria.

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  • 1Biotechnology Research Center, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which consist of two or more fused aromatic rings, are widespread in the environment and persist over long periods of time. The decontamination of a PAH-polluted environment is of importance because some PAHs are toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic and therefore are health hazards. As part of the efforts to establish remediation processes, the use of aerobic bacteria has been extensively studied, and both enzymologic and genetic studies are underway for the purpose of effective biodegradation. In the last two decades, one highly conserved group of PAH-catabolic genes from Pseudomonas species, called the nah-like genes, has been well investigated, and much has been found, including the structure-function relationships and the evolutionary trails of the catabolic enzymes. However, recently, PAH-catabolic genes, which are evolutionarily different from the nah-like genes, have been characterized from both Gram-negative bacteria other than Pseudomonas species and Gram-positive bacteria, and the information about these genes is expanding. This review is an outline of genetic knowledge about bacterial PAH catabolism.

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