Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 97, Issue 8, pp 3687–3698 | Cite as

Degradation of paracetamol by pure bacterial cultures and their microbial consortium

  • Lili Zhang
  • Jun Hu
  • Runye Zhu
  • Qingwei Zhou
  • Jianmeng ChenEmail author
Environmental biotechnology


Three bacterial strains utilizing paracetamol as the sole carbon, nitrogen, and energy source were isolated from a paracetamol-degrading aerobic aggregate, and assigned to species of the genera Stenotrophomonas and Pseudomonas. The Stenotrophomonas species have not included any known paracetamol degraders until now. In batch cultures, the organisms f1, f2, and fg-2 could perform complete degradation of paracetamol at concentrations of 400, 2,500, and 2,000 mg/L or below, respectively. A combination of three microbial strains resulted in significantly improved degradation and mineralization of paracetamol. The co-culture was able to use paracetamol up to concentrations of 4,000 mg/L, and mineralized 87.1 % of the added paracetamol at the initial of 2,000 mg/L. Two key metabolites of the biodegradation pathway of paracetamol, 4-aminophenol, and hydroquinone were detected. Paracetamol was degraded predominantly via 4-aminophenol to hydroquinone with subsequent ring fission, suggesting new pathways for paracetamol-degrading bacteria. The degradation of paracetamol could thus be performed by the single isolates, but is stimulated by a synergistic interaction of the three-member consortium, suggesting a possible complementary interaction among the various isolates. The exact roles of each of the strains in the consortium need to be further elucidated.


Biodegradation Paracetamol Metabolite Pathway 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 50908210 and 21177116) and the Important Provincial Science & Technology Specific Project (no. 2011C13023) from Zhejiang Province, China.

Supplementary material

253_2012_4170_MOESM1_ESM.docx (264 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 264 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lili Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jun Hu
    • 1
  • Runye Zhu
    • 1
  • Qingwei Zhou
    • 1
  • Jianmeng Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Biological and Environmental EngineeringZhejiang University of TechnologyHangzhouChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Aquatic Chemistry, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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