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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Sep;64(9):3368-75.

Biodegradation of atrazine by Agrobacterium radiobacter J14a and use of this strain in bioremediation of contaminated soil.

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Departments of Microbiology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


We examined the ability of a soil bacterium, Agrobacterium radiobacter J14a, to degrade the herbicide atrazine under a variety of cultural conditions, and we used this bacterium to increase the biodegradation of atrazine in soils from agricultural chemical distribution sites. J14a cells grown in nitrogen-free medium with citrate and sucrose as carbon sources mineralized 94% of 50 microgram of [14C-U-ring]atrazine ml-1 in 72 h with a concurrent increase in the population size from 7.9 x 10(5) to 5.0 x 10(7) cells ml-1. Under these conditions cells mineralized the [ethyl-14C]atrazine and incorporated approximately 30% of the 14C into the J14a biomass. Cells grown in medium without additional carbon and nitrogen sources degraded atrazine, but the cell numbers did not increase. Metabolites produced by J14a during atrazine degradation include hydroxyatrazine, deethylatrazine, and deethyl-hydroxyatrazine. The addition of 10(5) J14a cells g-1 into soil with a low indigenous population of atrazine degraders treated with 50 and 200 microgram of atrazine g-1 soil resulted in two to five times higher mineralization than in the noninoculated soil. Sucrose addition did not result in significantly faster mineralization rates or shorten degradation lag times. However, J14a introduction (10(5) cells g-1) into another soil with a larger indigenous atrazine-mineralizing population reduced the atrazine degradation lag times below those in noninoculated treatments but did not generally increase total atrazine mineralization.

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