Biotransformation of benzo[a]pyrene by the thermophilic bacterium Bacillus licheniformis M2-7

  • Joseph Guevara-Luna
  • Patricia Alvarez-Fitz
  • Elvira Ríos-Leal
  • Macdiel Acevedo-Quiroz
  • Sergio Encarnación-Guevara
  • Ma Elena Moreno-Godinez
  • Mildred Castellanos-Escamilla
  • Jeiry Toribio-Jiménez
  • Yanet Romero-Ramírez
Original Paper


Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is recognized as a potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic hydrocarbon, and thus, its removal from the environment is a priority. The use of thermophilic bacteria capable of biodegrading or biotransforming this compound to less toxic forms has been explored in recent decades, since it provides advantages compared to mesophilic organisms. This study assessed the biotransformation of BaP by the thermophilic bacterium Bacillus licheniformis M2-7. Our analysis of the biotransformation process mediated by strain M2-7 on BaP shows that it begins during the first 3 h of culture. The gas chromatogram of the compound produced shows a peak with a retention time of 17.38 min, and the mass spectra shows an approximate molecular ion of m/z 167, which coincides with the molecular weight of the chemical formula C6H4(COOH)2, confirming a chemical structure corresponding to phthalic acid. Catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (C23O) enzyme activity was detected in minimal saline medium supplemented with BaP (0.33 U mg−1 of protein). This finding suggests that B. licheniformis M2-7 uses the meta pathway for biodegrading BaP using the enzyme C23O, thereby generating phthalic acid as an intermediate.


Benzo[a]pyrene Phthalic acid Bacillus licheniformis Biotransformation Thermophilic bacteria Catechol 2,3-dioxygenase 



This work was supported by Grants 249671 from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología and by Agreement 2014 of the University of Guerrero. Joseph Guevara-Luna thanks Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología for MSc Scholarship (402669). We are grateful to Travis Ashworth for the critical discussions of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Guevara-Luna
    • 1
  • Patricia Alvarez-Fitz
    • 2
  • Elvira Ríos-Leal
    • 3
  • Macdiel Acevedo-Quiroz
    • 4
  • Sergio Encarnación-Guevara
    • 5
  • Ma Elena Moreno-Godinez
    • 2
  • Mildred Castellanos-Escamilla
    • 6
  • Jeiry Toribio-Jiménez
    • 1
  • Yanet Romero-Ramírez
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Microbiología Molecular y Biotecnología Ambiental, Unidad Académica de Ciencias Químico BiológicasUniversidad Autónoma de GuerreroChilpancingoMexico
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Toxicología y Salud AmbientalUniversidad Autónoma de Guerrero, MéxicoChilpancingoMexico
  3. 3.Departamento de Biotecnología y BioingenieríaCentro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico NacionalMexicoMexico
  4. 4.Centro de Investigaciones QuímicasUniversidad Autónoma de MorelosCuernavacaMexico
  5. 5.Laboratorio de proteómica, Centro de Ciencias GenómicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCuernavacaMexico
  6. 6.Biochemistry and Molecular Biology DepartmentUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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