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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2006 Sep;72(2):223-43. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

Microbial degradation of nonylphenol and other alkylphenols--our evolving view.

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Department of Environmental Research, RWTH Aachen University, 52074, Aachen, Germany.


Because the endocrine disrupting effects of nonylphenol (NP) and octylphenol became evident, the degradation of long-chain alkylphenols (AP) by microorganisms was intensively studied. Most NP-degrading bacteria belong to the sphingomonads and closely related genera, while NP metabolism is not restricted to defined fungal taxa. Growth on NP and its mineralization was demonstrated for bacterial isolates, whereas ultimate degradation by fungi still remains unclear. While both bacterial and fungal degradation of short-chain AP, such as cresols, and the bacterial degradation of long-chain branched AP involves aromatic ring hydroxylation, alkyl chain oxidation and the formation of phenolic polymers seem to be preferential elimination pathways of long-chain branched AP in fungi, whereby both intracellular and extracellular oxidative enzymes may be involved. The degradation of NP by sphingomonads does not proceed via the common degradation mechanisms reported for short-chain AP, rather, via an unusual ipso-substitution mechanism. This fact underlies the peculiarity of long-chain AP such as NP isomers, which possess highly branched alkyl groups mostly containing a quaternary alpha-carbon. In addition to physicochemical parameters influencing degradation rates, this structural characteristic confers to branched isomers of NP a biodegradability different to that of the widely used linear isomer of NP. Potential biotechnological applications for the removal of AP from contaminated media and the difficulties of analysis and application inherent to the hydrophobic NP, in particular, are also discussed. The combination of bacteria and fungi, attacking NP at both the phenolic and alkylic moiety, represents a promising perspective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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