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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Apr;74(8):2332-40. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02687-07. Epub 2008 Feb 22.

Rapid mineralization of the phenylurea herbicide diuron by Variovorax sp. strain SRS16 in pure culture and within a two-member consortium.

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Department of Geochemistry, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.


The phenylurea herbicide diuron [N-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-N,N-dimethylurea] is widely used in a broad range of herbicide formulations, and consequently, it is frequently detected as a major water contaminant in areas where there is extensive use. We constructed a linuron [N-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-N-methoxy-N-methylurea]- and diuron-mineralizing two-member consortium by combining the cooperative degradation capacities of the diuron-degrading organism Arthrobacter globiformis strain D47 and the linuron-mineralizing organism Variovorax sp. strain SRS16. Neither of the strains mineralized diuron alone in a mineral medium, but combined, the two strains mineralized 31 to 62% of the added [ring-U-(14)C]diuron to (14)CO(2), depending on the initial diuron concentration and the cultivation conditions. The constructed consortium was used to initiate the degradation and mineralization of diuron in soil without natural attenuation potential. This approach led to the unexpected finding that Variovorax sp. strain SRS16 was able to mineralize diuron in a pure culture when it was supplemented with appropriate growth substrates, making this strain the first known bacterium capable of mineralizing diuron and representatives of both the N,N-dimethyl- and N-methoxy-N-methyl-substituted phenylurea herbicides. The ability of the coculture to mineralize microgram-per-liter levels of diuron was compared to the ability of strain SRS16 alone, which revealed the greater extent of mineralization by the two-member consortium (31 to 33% of the added [ring-U-(14)C]diuron was mineralized to (14)CO(2) when 15.5 to 38.9 mug liter(-1) diuron was used). These results suggest that the consortium consisting of strains SRS16 and D47 could be a promising candidate for remediation of soil and water contaminated with diuron and linuron and their shared metabolite 3,4-dichloroaniline.

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