New insights on toluene biodegradation byPseudomonas putida F1:influence of pollutant concentration and excreted metabolites

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The influence of toluene concentration on the specific growth rate, cellular yield, specific CO2, and metabolite production by Pseudomonas putida F1 (PpF1) was investigated. Both cellular yield and specific CO2 production remained constant at 1.0 ± 0.1 g biomass dry weight (DW) g-1 toluene and 1.91 ± 0.31 g CO2 g-1 biomass, respectively, under the tested range of concentrations (2-250 mg toluene l-1). The specific growth rate increased up to 70 mg toluene l-1. Further increases in toluene concentration inhibited PpF1 growth, although inhibitory concentrations were far from the application range of biological treatment processes. The specific ATP content increased with toluene concentration up to toluene concentrations of 170 mg l-1. 3-Methyl catechol (3-MC) was never detected in the cultivation medium despite being an intermediary in the TOD pathway. This suggested that the transformation from toluene to 3-MC was the limiting step in the biodegradation process. On the other hand, benzyl alcohol (BA) was produced from toluene in a side chain reaction. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first reported case of methyl monoxygenation of toluene by PpF1 not harboring the pWW0 TOL plasmid. In addition, the influence of 3-MC, BA, and o-cresol on toluene degradation was investigated respirometrically, showing that toluene-associated respiration was not significantly inhibited in the presence of 10-100 mg l-1 of the above-mentioned compounds.

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