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Appl Microbiol. 1975 May;29(5):621-5.

Microbial degradation of polyethylene glycols.


Mono-, di-, tri-, and tetraethylene glycols and polyethylene glycols (PEG) with molecular weight up to 20,000 were degraded by soil microorganisms. A strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa able to use a PEG of average molecular weight 20,000 was isolated from soil. Washed cells oxidized mono- and tetraethylene glycols, but O2 consumption was not detectable when such cells were incubated for short periods with PEG 20,000. However, the bacteria excreted an enzyme which converted low- and high-molecular-weight PEG to a product utilized by washed P. aeruginosa cells. Gas chromatography of the supernatant of a culture grown on PEG 20,000 revealed the presence of a compound co-chromatographing with diethylene glycol. A metabolite formed from PEG 20,000 by the extracellular enzyme preparation was identified as ethylene glycol by combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

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