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Arch Microbiol. 2004 Jun;181(6):407-17. Epub 2004 May 1.

Degradation of o-xylene and m-xylene by a novel sulfate-reducer belonging to the genus Desulfotomaculum.

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  • 1Fakultät für Biologie, Universität Konstanz, Universitätsstrasse 10, 78457, Konstanz, Germany.


A strictly anaerobic bacterium, strain OX39, was isolated with o-xylene as organic substrate and sulfate as electron acceptor from an aquifer at a former gasworks plant contaminated with aromatic hydrocarbons. Apart from o-xylene, strain OX39 grew on m-xylene and toluene and all three substrates were oxidized completely to CO(2). Induction experiments indicated that o-xylene, m-xylene, and toluene degradation were initiated by different specific enzymes. Methylbenzylsuccinate was identified in supernatants of cultures grown on o-xylene and m-xylene, and benzylsuccinate was detected in supernatants of toluene-grown cells, thus indicating that degradation was initiated in all three cases by fumarate addition to the methyl group. Strain OX39 was sensitive towards sulfide and depended on Fe(II) in the medium as a scavenger of the produced sulfide. Analysis of the PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene revealed that strain OX39 affiliates with the gram-positive endospore-forming sulfate reducers of the genus Desulfotomaculum and is the first hydrocarbon-oxidizing bacterium in this genus.

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