Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 198, Issue 6, pp 509–519 | Cite as

Dibenzothiophene desulfurization capability and evolutionary divergence of newly isolated bacteria

  • Nasrin AkhtarEmail author
  • Muhammad A. Ghauri
  • Kalsoom Akhtar
Original Paper


Metabolically microorganisms are diverse, and they are capable of transforming almost every known group of chemical compounds present in coal and oil in various forms. In this milieu, one of the important microbial metabolic processes is the biodesulfurization [cleavage of carbon–sulfur (C–S) bond] of thiophenic compounds, such as dibenzothiophene (DBT), which is the most abundant form of organic sulfur present in fossil fuels. In the current study, ten newly isolated bacterial isolates, designated as species of genera Gordonia, Amycolatopsis, Microbacterium and Mycobacterium, were enriched from different samples in the presence of DBT as a sole source of organic sulfur. The HPLC analysis of the DBT grown cultures indicated the consumption of DBT and accumulation of 2-hydroxybiphenyl (2-HBP). Detection of 2-HBP, a marker metabolite of 4S (sulfoxide–sulfone–sulfinate–sulfate) pathway, suggested that the newly isolated strains harbored metabolic activity for DBT desulfurization through the cleavage of C–S bond. The maximum 2-HBP formation rate was 3.5 µmol/g dry cell weight (DCW)/h. The phylogenetic analysis of the new isolates showed that they had diverse distribution within the phylogenetic tree and formed distinct clusters, suggesting that they might represent strains of already reported species or they were altogether new species. Estimates of evolutionary divergence showed high level of nucleotide divergence between the isolates within the same genus. The new isolates were able to use a range of heterocyclic sulfur compounds, thus making them suitable candidates for a robust biodesulfurization system for fossil fuels.


Dibenzothiophene Organic sulfur C–S bond cleavage 16S rRNA gene Phylogenetic analysis 



This research work was supported by the International Foundation for Science, Stockholm, Sweden, through a grant to Dr. Nasrin Akhtar (Research Grant Agreement No. F/5379-1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

203_2016_1209_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 39 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nasrin Akhtar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Muhammad A. Ghauri
    • 1
  • Kalsoom Akhtar
    • 1
  1. 1.Industrial Biotechnology DivisionNational Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic EngineeringFaisalabadPakistan

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