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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2005 Jan;66(4):443-9. Epub 2004 Sep 2.

Modification of humic acids by the compost-dwelling deuteromycete Paecilomyces inflatus.

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  • 1Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Viikki Biocenter 1, University of Helsinki, Viikinkaari 9, P.O. Box 56, 00014, Helsinki, Finland.


The soil mold Paecilomyces inflatus is capable of modifying and partially mineralizing synthetic and natural humic acids (HAs) in compost environments. HA degradation studies using a synthetic HA (14C-HA) in autoclaved compost microcosms showed that, after 12 weeks of cultivation, P. inflatus mineralized approximately 5% of the 14C-labeled HA to 14CO2, while 6% of the 14C-HA was converted into 14C-labeled water-soluble fragments (fulvic-acid-like fraction). About 40% was still present as NaOH-soluble HA representing unmodified or only slightly modified humic material (compared with 60% in the controls). Modification of natural HAs extracted from compost was followed by their partial decolorization (30%) in liquid cultures of P. inflatus. Bleaching of the medium was accompanied by moderate changes in the molecular mass distribution of both the HA and fulvic-acid fractions, which were analyzed with high-performance size exclusion chromatography. HA modification was most pronounced during the primary growth phase of the fungus and was associated with increased laccase activity.

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