, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp 443-449
Date: 02 Sep 2004

Modification of humic acids by the compost-dwelling deuteromycete Paecilomyces inflatus

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The soil mold Paecilomyces inflatus is capable of modifying and partially mineralizing synthetic and natural humic acids (HAs) in compost environments. HA degradation studies using a synthetic HA (14C-HA) in autoclaved compost microcosms showed that, after 12 weeks of cultivation, P. inflatus mineralized approximately 5% of the 14C-labeled HA to14CO2, while 6% of the 14C-HA was converted into 14C-labeled water-soluble fragments (fulvic-acid-like fraction). About 40% was still present as NaOH-soluble HA representing unmodified or only slightly modified humic material (compared with 60% in the controls). Modification of natural HAs extracted from compost was followed by their partial decolorization (30%) in liquid cultures of P. inflatus. Bleaching of the medium was accompanied by moderate changes in the molecular mass distribution of both the HA and fulvic-acid fractions, which were analyzed with high-performance size exclusion chromatography. HA modification was most pronounced during the primary growth phase of the fungus and was associated with increased laccase activity.