Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Toxicol Chem. 2003 Jul;22(7):1421-7.

Variations in alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane enantiomer ratios in relation to microbial activity in a temperate estuary.

Author information

313 Ames Hall, DOGEE, 3400 North Charles Street, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


Changes in the enantiomer ratios (ERs) of chiral pollutants in the environment are often considered evidence of biological alteration despite the lack of data on causal or mechanistic relationships between microbial parameters and ER values. Enantiomer ratios that deviate from 1:1 in the environment provide evidence for the preferential microbial degradation of one enantiomer, whereas ER values equal to 1 provide no evidence for microbial degradation and may mistakenly be interpreted as evidence that biodegradation is not important. In an attempt to link biological and geochemical information related to enantioselective processes, we measured the ERs of the chiral pesticide alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane (alpha-HCH) and bacterial activity (normalized to abundance) in surface waters of the York River (VA, USA) bimonthly throughout one year. Despite lower overall alpha-HCH concentrations, alpha-HCH ER values were unexpectedly close to 1:1 in the freshwater region of the estuary with the highest bacterial activity. In contrast, ER values were nonracemic (ER double dagger 1) and alpha-HCH concentrations were significantly higher in the higher salinity region of the estuary, where bacterial activity was lower. Examination of these data may indicate that racemic environmental ER values are not necessarily reflective of a lack of biodegradation or recent input into the environment, and that nonenantioselective biodegradation may be important in certain areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center