Understanding microbial hydrocarbon breakdown

Rainer U. Meckenstock

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


A research group at the Institute of Groundwater Ecology of Germany isolated a number of novel microorganisms that can utilize benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, or xylene (BTEX), or the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) naphthalene and methylnaphthalene as substrates and either sulfate or ferric iron as electron acceptors. The group found that naphthyl-2-methyl-succinate and naphthyl-2-methylene-succinate, which were generated when the N47 organism degraded 2-methylnaphthalene also appeared when it grew on naphthalene. Three enzymes involved in the anaerobic degradation of 2-methyl-naphthalene to 2-naphthoic acid, naphthyl-2-methyl-succinate synthase, succinyl-CoA: naphthyl-2-methyl- succinate CoA-transferase, and naphthyl-2-methy-succinyl -CoA dehydrogenase, also appeared when cells were grown on naphthalene. Overall, results suggest that methylation is a novel general mechanism for activation reactions in anaerobic degradation of unsubstituted aromatic hydrocarbons.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Specialist publicationIndustrial Bioprocessing
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


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