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Chemotactic screening of imidazolinone-degrading bacteria by microfluidic SlipChip

Chen, Dongwei, Liu, Shuang-Jiang, Du, Wenbin
Journal of hazardous materials 2019 v.366 pp. 512-519
Ochrobactrum, bacteria, bioavailability, biodegradability, biodegradation, chemotaxis, crop rotation, genes, imazethapyr, pollutants, polluted soils, ribosomal RNA, screening, tandem mass spectrometry, weed control
The group of imidazolinone herbicides, widely used for weed control, is hazardous to some sensitive rotational crops. Thus, rapid elimination of imidazolinones from contaminated soil is significant for the environment. Biodegradation studies have demonstrated the ability of chemotaxis to enhance the biodegradation of pollutants. In this study, we used our newly developed SlipChip device for chemotactic sorting and a microfluidic streak plate device for bacterial cultivation as a new pipeline for screening imidazolinone degraders. The degradation efficiencies of an enrichment consortium and a chemotaxis consortium were determined by HPLC-MS/MS. Both consortia degraded all tested imidazolinones, with the highest efficiency (71.8%) for imazethapyr, and the chemotaxis consortium degraded these compounds approximately 10% more efficiently than the enrichment consortium. Moreover, the community diversities of the enrichment consortium and the chemotaxis consortium were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The results indicated that members of genus Ochrobactrum primarily contribute to the degradation of imidazolinones. This work proved that chemotaxis toward biodegradable pollutants increases their bioavailability and enhances the biodegradation rate. It also provided a new way to screen effective pollutant degraders and can be applied for the selective isolation of other chemotactic species from environmental samples.