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Enhanced biodegradation of phenanthrene in a biphasic culture system



Biodegradation (1994), No.5, pp.93-103 : Abb.,Tab.,Lit.
ISSN: 0923-9820
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IGB ()
2,2,4,4,6,8,8-heptamethylnonane; bioavailability; biodegradation; HMN; PAH; phenanthrene; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; surfactant

Degradation of phenanthrene by Pseudomonas aeruginosa AK1 was examined in (i) an aqueous mineral salts medium to which phenanthrene particles of varying size (i.e. diameter) were added, and (ii) an aqueous/organic biphasic culture system consisting of mineral salts medium supplemented with 2,2,4,4,6,8,8-heptamethylnonane (HMN) as the phenanthrene-carrying organic phase. In both systems, the rate of phenanthrene biodegradation could be significantly enhanced by manipulations leading to improved phenanthrene mass transfer into the aqueous phase. With crystalline phenanthrene, the rate of biodegradation was found to be directly correlated to the particle surface area, whereas in the biphasic system the rate of biodegradation of the dissolved phenanthrene was mainly governed by the HMN/water interface area. In the latter system, exponential growth with a doubling time td of 6-8 hours has been achieved under conditions of intensive agitation of the medium indicating that phenanthrene degrad ation by strain AK1 is limited mainly by physicochemical parameters. Addition of selected surfactants to the culture medium was found to accelerate phenanthrene degradation by strain AK1 only under conditions of low agitation (in the presence of HMN) and after pretreatment of phenanthrene crystals by ultrasonication (in the absence of HMN). Evidence is presented that the stimulating effect of the surfactants was primarily due to improved dispersion of phenanthrene particle agglomerates (in the aqueous mineral salts medium supplemented with phenanthrene crystals) or of the phenanthrene-carrying lipophilic solvent drops (in the aqueous/organic biphasic culture system) whereas the solubilizing activity towards phenanthrene was neglectible. Under conditions of intensive mixing of the culture medium (i.e. if a high particle surface area of HMN/water interface area, resp., is provided), the addition of surfactants did not enhance phenanthrene biodegradation.