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The ability of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia strain VUN 10,003 to degrade and detoxify high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was evaluated in a basal liquid medium. Using high cell density inocula of strain VUN 10,003, the concentration of pyrene, fluoranthene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene and coronene decreased by 98, 45, 26, 22, 22 and 55% over periods ranging from 5 to 42 d. When a PAH mixture containing three- to seven-ring compounds was used, degradation of both low and high molecular weight compounds occurred concurrently. Mutagenicity assays (AmesTest) demonstrated a decrease in the mutagenic potential of dichloromethane culture extracts from all cultures containing single PAH over the incubation period, corresponding to the decrease in the concentration of the PAH. These observations indicate that strain VUN 10,003 could be used for the detoxification of PAH-contaminated wastes.