Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 425–430 | Cite as

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Degradation Coupled to Methanogenesis

  • Wook ChangEmail author
  • Youngsoon Um
  • Tracey R. Pulliam Holoman


Baltimore Harbor (Baltimore, MD) sediments were utilized to initiate anaerobic enrichment cultures with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the absence of supplementary electron acceptors. Cultures amended with naphthalene and phenanthrene exhibited sustained, transferable degradation of the PAHs. Bromoethanesulfonic acid, a selective inhibitor of methanogenesis, inhibited the degradation of 200 μm naphthalene and phenanthrene; molecular characterization based on 16S rRNA sequences confirmed that methanogenic Archaea were eliminated, thus providing evidence that methanogenesis is involved in the degradation pathway.


16S ribosomal RNA anaerobic biodegradation bromoethanesulfonic acid (BES) methanogenesis polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altschul, SF, Gish, W, Miller, W, Myers, EW, Lipman, DJ 1990Basic local alignment search toolJ. Mol. Biol.215403410CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, R, Lovley, D 2000Hexadecane decay by methanogenesisNature404722723PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Chang W, Jones T, Holoman TRP (2001) Anaerobic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading enrichment cultures under methanogenic conditions. In: Bioremediation of Energetics, Phenolics, and Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Proceedings of the 6th International In Situ and On-Site Bioremediation Symposium. June 4–7, San Diego, Battelle, Columbus, OH, pp. 205–210Google Scholar
  4. Chang, W, Um, Y, Brendan, H, Holoman, TRP 2005aMolecular characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading methanogenic communitiesBiotech. Prog.21681688Google Scholar
  5. Chang, W, Um, Y, Holoman, TRP 2005bMolecular characterization of anaerobic microbial communities from benzene-degrading sediments under methanogenic conditionsBiotech. Prog.2117891794Google Scholar
  6. Coates, JD, Anderson, RT, Lovley, DR 1996Oxidation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons under sulfate-reducing conditionsAppl. Environ. Microbiol.6210991101PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Ficker, M, Krastel, K, Orlicky, S, Edwards, E 1999Molecular characterization of a toluene-degrading methanogenic consortiumAppl. Environ. Microbiol.6555765585PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gunsalus, RP, Romesser, JA, Wolfe, RS 1978Preparation of coenzyme M analogues and their activity in the methyl coenzyme M reductase system of Methanobacterium thermotrophicumBiochemistry1723742376CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Harada, N, Nishiyama, M, Matsumoto, S 2001Inhibition of methanogens increases photo-dependent nitrogenase activities in anoxic paddy soil amended with rice strawFEMS Microbiol. Ecol.35231238PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Holoman, TRP, Elberson, MA, Cutter, LA, May, HD, Sowers, KR 1998Characterization of a defined 2,3,5,6-tetrachlorobiphenyl-ortho-dechlorinating microbial community by comparative sequence analysis of gene coding for 16S rRNAAppl. Environ. Microbiol.6433593367PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Lovley, DR 1997Potential for anaerobic bioremediation of BTEX in petroleum-contaminated aquifersJ. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol.187581Google Scholar
  12. Olsen, GJ, Larsen, N, Woese, CR 1991The ribosomal RNA database projectNucleic Acids Res.1920172021PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Phelps, CD, Kerkhof, LJ, Young, LY 1998Molecular characterization of a sulfate-reducing consortium which mineralizes benzeneFEMS Microbiol. Ecol.27269279Google Scholar
  14. Rockne, KJ, Strand, SE 1998Biodegradation of bicyclic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in anaerobic enrichmentsEnviron. Sci. Technol.3239623967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rockne, KJ, Strand, SE 2001Anaerobic biodegradation of naphthalene, phenanthrene, and biphenyl by a denitrifying enrichment cultureWater Res.35291299CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Schink, B 1997Energetics of syntrophic cooperation in methanogenic degradationMicrobiol. Mol. Biol. Rev.62262280Google Scholar
  17. Zengler, K, Richnow, H, Rossello-Mora, R, Michaelis, W, Widdel, F 1999Methane formation from long-chain alkanes by anaerobic microorganismsNature401266269PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Zhang, X, Young, LY 1997Carboxylation as an initial reaction in the anaerobic metabolism of naphthalene and phenanthrene by sulfidogenic consortiaAppl. Environ. Microbiol.6347594764PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Zwolinski, MD, Harris, RF, Hickey, WJ 2000Microbial consortia involved in the anaerobic degradation of hydrocarbonsBiodegradation11141158CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wook Chang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Youngsoon Um
    • 1
  • Tracey R. Pulliam Holoman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations