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Elucidating the biodegradation mechanism of tributyl phosphate (TBP) by Sphingomonas sp. isolated from TBP-contaminated mine tailings

Liu, Jia, Lin, Hai, Dong, Yingbo, Li, Bing
Environmental pollution 2019 v.250 pp. 284-291
Sphingomonas, biodegradation, bioremediation, carbon, chemical bonding, cleavage (chemistry), cost effectiveness, hydrogen, hydrolysis, isotope fractionation, isotopes, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, metabolites, mine tailings, nuclear fuels, phosphates, physicochemical properties, plasticizers, ribosomal RNA
Tributyl phosphate (TBP) is recognised as a global environmental contaminant because of its wide use in floatation reagents, nuclear fuel reprocessing and plasticisers. This contaminant is hardly degraded by hydrolysis in the environment due to its special physicochemical properties. In this study, one TBP-degrading strain was isolated from TBP-contaminated abandoned mine tailings, and 16S rRNA identification revealed that the strain belonged to the genus Sphingomonas. Results validated that the strain could utilise TBP as the sole carbon source, and vitamin was not the essential factor for its growth. Liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry analysis identified di-n-butyl phosphate (DnBP) and mono-n-butyl phosphate (MnBP) as the intermediate metabolites for TBP biodegradation. No obvious change in carbon and hydrogen isotope composition was observed in biodegradation processes (cell suspension and crude extract degradation), which indicated that the first irreversible bond cleavage did not involve carbon or hydrogen. Hence, the TBP degradation scheme by Sphingomonas sp. proposed that the first irreversible step of TBP transferred to DnBP would lead to PO bond cleavage. This study combined the identification of products and isotope fractionation in substrates to investigate the transformation mechanism, thereby providing an eco-friendly and cost-effective way for the in situ bioremediation of TBP-contaminated sites by the isolated TBP degradation strain.