Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 330–335 | Cite as

Reductive transformation of methyl parathion by the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120

  • J. W. Barton
  • T. KuritzEmail author
  • L. E. O’Connor
  • C. Y. Ma
  • M. P. Maskarinec
  • B. H. Davison
Original Paper


Organophosphorus compounds are toxic chemicals that are applied worldwide as household pesticides and for crop protection, and they are stockpiled for chemical warfare. As a result, they are routinely detected in air and water. Methods and routes of biodegradation of these compounds are being sought. We report that under aerobic, photosynthetic conditions, the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. transformed methyl parathion first to o,o-dimethyl o-p-nitrosophenyl thiophosphate and then to o,o-dimethyl o-p-aminophenyl thiophosphate by reducing the nitro group. The process of methyl parathion transformation occurred in the light, but not in the dark. Methyl parathion was toxic to cyanobacteria in the dark but did not affect their viability in the light. Methyl parathion transformation was not affected by mutations in the genes involved in nitrate reduction in cyanobacteria.


Nitro Group Anabaena Nitrate Reductase Activity Methyl Parathion Organophosphorus Pesticide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank L. Renee Rodgers, Alexander Francisco, and K. Thomas Klasson for technical assistance, and Elizabeth T. Owens for reviewing the manuscript. This research was supported by ORNL Laboratory-Directed Research and Development Program. ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC for the US Department of Energy under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725.


  1. Alexander M (1994) Biodegradation and bioremediation. Academic, San Diego, Calif., pp 1–7, 248–268Google Scholar
  2. Cai Y, Wolk CP (1997) Nitrogen deprivation of Anabaena sp. strain PCC7120 elicits rapid activation of a gene cluster that is essential for uptake and utilization of nitrite. J Bacteriol 179:258–266PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. De Hoffmann E, Stroobant V (2002) Mass spectrometry: principles and applications. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Elanskaya IV, Chesnavichene EA, Vernotte C, Astier C (1998) Resistance to nitrophenolic herbicides and metronidazole in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 as a result of the inactivation of a nitroreductase-like protein encoded by drgA gene. FEBS Lett 428:188–192CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Environmental Protection Agency (1998) Methyl parathion: report on the Hazard Identification Assessment Review Committee, US EPA, Washington, D.C. Cited 7 July 1998Google Scholar
  6. Esteve-Núñez A, Caballero A, Ramos JL (2001) Biological degradation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 65:335–352PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Flores E, Guerrero MG, Losada M (1983) Photosynthetic nature of nitrate uptake and reduction in the cyanobacterium Anacystis nudulans. Biochim Biophys Acta 722:408–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Goolsby DA, Thurman EM, Pomes ML, Meyer MT, WA Battaglin (1997) Herbicides and their metabolites in rainfall: origin, transport, and deposition patterns across the Midwestern and Northeastern United States, 1990–1991. Environ Sci Tech 31:1325–1333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goronzy T, Drzyzga O, Kahl MW, Bruns-Nagel D, Breitung J, von Loew E, Blotevogel K-H (1994) Microbial degradation of explosives and related compounds. Crit Rev Microbiol 20:265–284PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Guikema JA, Sherman LA (1980) Metronidazole and the isolation of temperature-sensitive photosynthetic mutants in cyanobacteria. J Bioenerg Biomembr 12:277–295PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Kuritz T, Wolk CP (1995) Use of filamentous cyanobacteria for biodegradation of organic pollutants. Appl Environ Microbiol 61:234–238PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Kuritz T, Bocanera LV, Rivera NS (1997) Dechlorination of lindane by the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 depends on the function of the nir operon. J Bacteriol 179:3368–3370PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Majewski, MS, Capel PD (1995) Pesticides in the atmosphere. Ann Arbor, Mich.Google Scholar
  14. Marvin-Sikkema FD, de Bont JAM (1994) Degradation of nitroaromatic compounds by microorganisms. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 42:499–507CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Megharaj M, Venkateswarlu K, Rao AS (1987) Metabolism of monocrotophos and quinalphos by algae isolated from soil. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 39:251–256PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Megharaj M, Madhavi DR, Sreeinvasaulu C, Umamaheswari A, Venkateswarlu K (1994) Biodegradation of methylparathion by soil isolates of microalgae and cyanobacteria. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 53:292–297PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Mishra AK, Pandey AB (1989) Toxicity of three herbicides to some nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 17:236–246PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Muškuniene V, Šaralauskas J, Jacquot J-P, Čenas N (1998) Nitroreductase reactions of Arabidopsis thaliana thioredoxin reductase. Biochim Biophys Acta 1366:275–283PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Mulbry WW, Karns JS (1989a) Parathion hydrolase specified by the Flavobacterium opd gene: relationship between the gene and protein. J Bacteriol 171:6740–6746PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mulbry WW, Karns JS (1989b) Purification and characterization of three parathion hydrolases from Gram-negative bacterial strains. Appl Environ Microbiol 55:289–293Google Scholar
  21. Mulbry W, Rainina E (1998) Biodegradation of chemical warfare agents. ASM News 64:325–331Google Scholar
  22. US General Accounting Office (2003) Chemical weapons. Sustained leadership along with key strategic management tools is needed to guide DOD’s destruction program. Report to congressional committees, GAO-03-1031, September 2003, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  23. Orus MI, Marco E (1991) Disappearance of trichlorophon from cultures with different cyanobacteria. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 47:392–397PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Pavlosthatis SG, Jackson GH (1999) Biotransformation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene in Anabaena sp. cultures. Environ Toxicol Chem 18:412–419Google Scholar
  25. Pavlosthatis SG, Jackson GH (2001) Biotransformation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene in a continuos-flow Anabaena sp. system. Water Res 36:1699–1706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rieble S, Joshi DK, Gold MH (1994) Aromatic nitroreductase from the basidiomycete Phanerochaete chrysosporium. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 205:298–304CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Rippka R, Deruelles J, Waterbury JB, Herdman M, Stanier RY (1979) Generic assignments, strain histories and properties of pure cultures of cyanobacteria. J Gen Microbiol 111:1–61Google Scholar
  28. Schmetterer G (1994) Cyanobacterial respiration. In: Bryant DA (ed) The molecular biology of cyanobacteria. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 409–435Google Scholar
  29. Singh PK (1973) Effect of pesticides on blue-green algae. Arch Microbiol 89:317–320Google Scholar
  30. Spain JC (1995) Biodegradation of nitroaromatic compounds. Annu Rev Microbiol 49:523–555CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Subramanian G, Sekar S, Sampoornam S (1994) Biodegradation and utilization of organophosphorus pesticides by cyanobacteria. Int Biodeter Biodegr 33:129–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. W. Barton
    • 1
  • T. Kuritz
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • L. E. O’Connor
    • 1
  • C. Y. Ma
    • 2
  • M. P. Maskarinec
    • 2
  • B. H. Davison
    • 1
  1. 1.Life Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  2. 2.Chemical Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  3. 3.Center for Environmental BiotechnologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations