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Biodegradation. 2005 Aug;16(4):363-92.

Biodegradation of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) by microorganisms.

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Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1.


The organochlorine pesticide Lindane is the gamma-isomer of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH). Technical grade Lindane contains a mixture of HCH isomers which include not only gamma-HCH, but also large amounts of predominantly alpha-, beta- and delta-HCH. The physical properties and persistence of each isomer differ because of the different chlorine atom orientations on each molecule (axial or equatorial). However, all four isomers are considered toxic and recalcitrant worldwide pollutants. Biodegradation of HCH has been studied in soil, slurry and culture media but very little information exists on in situ bioremediation of the different isomers including Lindane itself, at full scale. Several soil microorganisms capable of degrading, and utilizing HCH as a carbon source, have been reported. In selected bacterial strains, the genes encoding the enzymes involved in the initial degradation of Lindane have been cloned, sequenced, expressed and the gene products characterized. HCH is biodegradable under both oxic and anoxic conditions, although mineralization is generally observed only in oxic systems. As is found for most organic compounds, HCH degradation in soil occurs at moderate temperatures and at near neutral pH. HCH biodegradation in soil has been reported at both low and high (saturated) moisture contents. Soil texture and organic matter appear to influence degradation presumably by sorption mechanisms and impact on moisture retention, bacterial growth and pH. Most studies report on the biodegradation of relatively low (< 500 mg/kg) concentrations of HCH in soil. Information on the effects of inorganic nutrients, organic carbon sources or other soil amendments is scattered and inconclusive. More in-depth assessments of amendment effects and evaluation of bioremediation protocols, on a large scale, using soil with high HCH concentrations, are needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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