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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1988 Feb;54(2):548-54.

Aerobic biomineralization of alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane in contaminated soil.

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Department of Microbiology, Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


The factors identified to be important for the aerobic biodegradation of alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane (alpha-HCH) in a soil slurry are temperature, auxiliary carbon source, substrate concentration, and soil inhomogeneities. Temperatures in the range of 20 to 30 degrees C were determined to be most favorable for biodegradation of alpha-HCH. No alpha-HCH biodegradation was detected at temperatures below 4 degrees C and above 40 degrees C. The addition of auxiliary organic carbon compounds showed repressive effects on alpha-HCH biomineralization. Increased oxygen partial pressures reduced the repressive effects of added auxiliary organic carbon compounds. A linear relationship between alpha-HCH concentration and its conversion rate was found in a Lineweaver-Burk plot. Inhomogeneities such as clumping of alpha-HCH significantly affected its biodegradation. Inhomogeneity as an influence on biodegradation has not drawn sufficient attention in the past, even though it certainly has affected both laboratory studies and the application of biotechnological methods to clean up contaminated sites. On the basis of metabolites detected during degradation experiments, the initial steps of aerobic alpha-HCH bioconversion in a soil slurry are proposed.

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