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Microbial biodegradation of aromatic alkanoic naphthenic acids is affected by the degree of alkyl side chain branching

Johnson, Richard J and Smith, Ben E and Sutton, Paul A and McGenity, Terry J and Rowland, Steven J and Whitby, Corinne (2011) 'Microbial biodegradation of aromatic alkanoic naphthenic acids is affected by the degree of alkyl side chain branching.' The ISME Journal, 5 (3). pp. 486-496. ISSN 1751-7362


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Naphthenic acids (NAs) occur naturally in oil sands and enter the environment through natural and anthropogenic processes. NAs comprise toxic carboxylic acids that are difficult to degrade. Information on NA biodegradation mechanisms is limited, and there are no studies on alkyl branched aromatic alkanoic acid biodegradation, despite their contribution to NA toxicity and recalcitrance. Increased alkyl side chain branching has been proposed to explain NA recalcitrance. Using soil enrichments, we examined the biodegradation of four aromatic alkanoic acid isomers that differed in alkyl side chain branching: (4′-n-butylphenyl)-4-butanoic acid (n-BPBA, least branched); (4′-iso-butylphenyl)-4-butanoic acid (iso-BPBA); (4′-sec- butylphenyl)-4-butanoic acid (sec-BPBA) and (4′-tert-butylphenyl)-4- butanoic acid (tert-BPBA, most branched). n-BPBA was completely metabolized within 49 days. Mass spectral analysis confirmed that the more branched isomers iso-, sec- and tert-BPBA were transformed to their butylphenylethanoic acid (BPEA) counterparts at 14 days. The BPEA metabolites were generally less toxic than BPBAs as determined by Microtox assay. n-BPEA was further transformed to a diacid, showing that carboxylation of the alkyl side chain occurred. In each case, biodegradation of the carboxyl side chain proceeded through beta-oxidation, which depended on the degree of alkyl side chain branching, and a BPBA degradation pathway is proposed. Comparison of 16S rRNA gene sequences at days 0 and 49 showed an increase and high abundance at day 49 of Pseudomonas (sec-BPBA), Burkholderia (n-, iso-, tert-BPBA) and Sphingomonas (n-, sec-BPBA). © 2011 International Society for Microbial Ecology All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: beta-oxidation; butyl phenylbutyric acid biodegradation; naphthenic acids; oil sands; bioremediation
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2011 12:41
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 11:02

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