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Microb Ecol. 1990 Dec;20(1):87-102. doi: 10.1007/BF02543870.

Influence of chroline substitution pattern on the degradation of polychlorinated biphenyls by eight bacterial strains.

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General Electric Corporate Research and Development, Schenectady, 12301, New York, USA.


We compared the metabolism of eight di- and trichlorobiphenyls by eight bacterial strains chosen to represent a broad range of degradative activity against polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The PCB congeners used were 2,3-, 2,3'-, 2,4'-, 3,3'-, 2,3,3'-, 2,4,4'-, 2,5,3'-, and 3,4,2'-chlorobiphenyl. The bacterial strains used wereCorynebacterium sp. MB1,Alcaligenes strainsA. eutrophus H850 andA. faecalis Pi434, andPseudomonas strains LB400 and H1130,P. testosteroni H430 and H336, andP. cepacia H201. The results indicated that both the relative rates of primary degradation of PCBs and the choice of the ring attacked were dependent on the bacterial strain used. The bacterial strains exhibited considerable differences in their relative reactivity preferences for attack on mono- and dichlorophenyl groups and in the degree to which the attack was affected by the chlorine substitution pattern on the nonreacting ring. For MB1 the reactivity pattern was 3-≥4-≫2-chlorophenyl with no attack on 2,4- or 2,5-chlorophenyl groups. This strain was relatively insensitive to the chlorine substitution pattern on the nonreacting ring. Strains H1130, H430, H201, and Pi434 exhibited the same reactivity preferences as MB1, but for these strains (and for all others tested) the chlorination pattern on the nonreacting ring had a strong effect. For strain H336 the reactivity preference was 4-≥2->2,4-≥3-chlorophenyl, with no evidence of attack on 2,5-chlorophenyl rings. For strains H850 and LB400 the relative reactivity was 2->2,5->3-≫2,4->4-chlorophenyl. On this basis we propose that the eight bacterial strains represent four distinct classes of biphenyl/PCB-dioxygenase activity.The types of products formed were largely strain-independent and were determined primarily by the chlorine substitution pattern on the reacting ring. When the reacting ring was an unsubstituted phenyl or a 2-chlorophenyl group, the products were chlorobenzoic acids in high yields; for a 3-chlorophenyl ring, both chlorobenzoic acids and chloroacetophenones in moderate yields; and for a 4- or 2,4-chlorophenyl group, chlorobenzoic acids in low yields with an apparent accumulation ofmeta ring-fission product. Strains H850 and LB400 were able to degrade the 3-chlorobenzoic acid that they produced from the degradation of 2,3'-chlorobiphenyl. We conclude that despite differences among strains in the specificity of the initial dioxygenase, the specificities of the enzymes responsible for the subsequent degradation to chlorobenzoic acid and/or chloroacetophenone are quite similar for all strains.


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