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A comparison of three atrazine-degrading bacteria for soil bioremediation

Topp, E.
Biology and fertility of soils 2001 v.33 no.6 pp. 529-534
atrazine, mineralization, metabolism, viability, soil bacteria, soil pollution, interspecific variation, nitrogen, bioremediation, inoculum density, polymerase chain reaction, metabolites, Nocardioides, genes, biodegradation, Pseudomonas, half life
The ability of three atrazine-degrading bacteria, Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP, a Pseudaminobacter sp., and a Nocardioides sp., to degrade and mineralize this herbicide in a loam soil was evaluated in laboratory microcosms. These bacteria all hydrolytically dechlorinate atrazine, and degrade atrazine in pure culture with comparable specific activities. The Pseudaminobacter and Nocardioides can utilize atrazine as sole carbon and nitrogen source, whereas the Pseudomonas can utilize the compound only as a nitrogen source. The Pseudomonas and Pseudaminobacter mineralize the compound; the end product of atrazine metabolism by the Nocardioides is N-ethylammelide. At inoculum densities of 10(5) cells/g soil, only the Pseudaminobacter and Nocardioides accelerated atrazine dissipation. The Pseudaminobacter mineralized atrazine rapidly and without a lag, whereas atrazine was mineralized in the Nocardioides-inoculated soil but only after a lag of several days. The Pseudaminobacter remained viable longer than did the Pseudomonas in soil. PCR analysis of recovered bacteria indicated that the genes atzA (atrazine chlorohydrolase) and atzB (hydroxyatrazine ethylaminohydrolase) were less stable in the Pseudaminobacter than the Pseudomonas. In summary, this study has revealed important differences in the ability of atrazine-hydrolyzing bacteria to degrade this compound in soil, and suggests that the ability to utilize atrazine as a carbon source is important to establish "enhanced degradation" by ecologically meaningful inoculum densities.