Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 98, Issue 13, pp 6125–6135 | Cite as

Degradation of atrazine by Frankia alni ACN14a: gene regulation, dealkylation, and dechlorination

  • Medhat Rehan
  • Martin Kluge
  • Stefan Fränzle
  • Harald Kellner
  • René Ullrich
  • Martin Hofrichter
Environmental biotechnology


Atrazine is transformed to N-isopropylammelide through hydroxyatrazine as an intermediate as indicated by high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy in culture filtrates of Frankia alni ACN14a and Frankia sp. EuI1c. Both Frankia strains have the ability to degrade atrazine via dechlorination and dealkylation and, subsequently, may be using it as a nitrogen and carbon source as detected here by increasing their growth patterns. Bioinformatic analysis of the Frankia genomes revealed that a potential gene cluster involved in atrazine decomposition contains three genes, namely, trzN (FRAAL1474 and FraEuI1c_5874), atzB (FRAAL1473 and FraEuI1c_5875), and atzR (FRAAL1471). The relative messenger RNA gene expression of the former genes was examined by qRT-PCR. The LysR-type transcriptional regulator atzR (FRAAL1471), which is expected to control the cluster expression, showed a 13-fold increase in the expression level under atrazine stress. Moreover, the putative adenosine aminohydrolase 3 atzB (FRAAL1473), which is expected to dealkylate the N-ethyl group of atrazine, showed also an increased expression by factor 16 with increased exposure. Eventually, the trzN (FRAAL1474) gene, which is predicted to encode a putative amidohydrolase catalyzing atrazine dechlorination, exhibited 31-fold increased expression. To our best knowledge, this is the first report about adenosine aminohydrolase 3 function in the dealkylation of the N-ethyl group from atrazine.


Frankia Actinorhizal symbiosis s-Triazine biodegradation qRT-PCR 



This investigation was supported in part by the German-Egyptian Research Short Term Scholarship (GERSS). We thank Didier Bogusz from IRD, France for supplying the Frankia strains, Tobias Arnstadt for doing the statistical analysis, and Ulrike Schneider and Monika Brandt for their technical assistance during the lab work.

Supplementary material

253_2014_5665_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (197 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 197 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Medhat Rehan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Martin Kluge
    • 1
  • Stefan Fränzle
    • 1
  • Harald Kellner
    • 1
  • René Ullrich
    • 1
  • Martin Hofrichter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Bio- and Environmental SciencesInternational Institute ZittauZittauGermany
  2. 2.Department of GeneticsKafrelsheikh UniversityKafr El-SheikhEgypt

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