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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1988 Jan;54(1):143-9.

Biodegradation of alpha- and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane in a soil slurry under different redox conditions.

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


Aerobic conditions proved to be best for the microbiol conversion of alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane (alpha-HCH) in a soil slurry. The dry soil contained 400 mg of alpha-HCH per kg. This xenobiotic compound was mineralized within about 18 days at an initial rate of 23 mg/kg of soil per day by the mixed native microbial population of the soil. The only intermediate that was detected during breakdown was pentachlorocyclohexene, which was detected at very small concentrations. Alpha-HCH was also bioconverted under methanogenic conditions. However, a rather long acclimation period (about 30 days) was necessary before degradation started, at a rate of 13 mg/kg of soil per day. Mass balance calculations showed that about 85% of the initial alpha-HCH that was present was converted to monochlorobenzene, 3,5-dichlorophenol, and a trichlorophenol isomer, possibly 2,4,5-trichlorophenol. Under both denitrifying and sulfate-reducing conditions, no significant bioconversion of alpha-HCH was observed. The beta isomer of HCH was recalcitrant at all of the four redox conditions studied. We propose that the specific spatial chloride arrangement of the beta isomer is responsible for its stability. The results reported here with complex soil slurry systems showed that alpha-HCH is, in contrast to the existing data in the literature, best degraded biologically in the presence of oxygen.

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