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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Jun 15;41(12):4292-8.

Hydroxylated metabolites of beta- and delta-hexachlorocyclohexane: bacterial formation, stereochemical configuration, and occurrence in groundwater at a former production site.

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Environmental Microbiology, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.


Although the use of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), one of the most popular insecticides after the Second World War, has been discontinued in many countries, problems remain from former production and waste sites. Despite the widespread occurrence of HCHs, the environmental fate of these compounds is not fully understood. In particular, environmental metabolites of the more persistent beta-HCH and delta-HCH have not been fully identified. Such knowledge, however, is important to follow degradation and environmental fate of the HCHs. In the present study, several hydroxy metabolites that formed during incubation of beta- and delta-HCH with the common soil microorganism Sphingobium indicum B90A were isolated, characterized, and stereochemically identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). The metabolites were identified as isomeric pentachlorocyclohexanols (B1, D1) and tetrachlorocyclohexane-1,4-diols (B2, D2); delta-HCH additionally formed a tetrachloro-2-cyclohexen-1-ol (D3) and a trichloro-2-cyclohexene-1,4-diol (D4), most likely by hydroxylation of delta-pentachlorocyclohexene (delta-PCCH), initially formed by dehydrochlorination. The dehydrochlorinase LinA was responsible for conversion of delta-HCH into delta-PCCH, and the haloalkane dehalogenase LinB was responsible for the transformation of beta-HCH and delta-HCH into B1 and D1, respectively, and subsequently into B2 and D2, respectively. LinB was also responsible for transforming delta-PCCH into D3 and subsequently into D4. These hydroxylations proceeded in accordance with SN2 type reactions with initial substitution of equatorial Cls and formation of axially hydroxylated stereoisomers. The apparently high reactivity of equatorial Cls in beta- and delta-HCH toward initial hydroxylation by LinB of Sphingobium indicum B90A is remarkable when considering the otherwise usually higher reactivity of axial Cls. Several of these metabolites were detected in groundwater from a former HCH production site in Switzerland. Their presence indicates that these reactions proceed under natural environmental conditions and that the metabolites are of environmental relevance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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