Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 3263–3270 | Cite as

Sublethal detergent concentrations increase metabolization of recalcitrant polyphosphonates by the cyanobacterium Spirulina platensis

  • Giuseppe Forlani
  • Michele Bertazzini
  • Samuele Giberti
  • Dorota Wieczorek
  • Paweł Kafarski
  • Jacek Lipok
Research Article


As a consequence of increasing industrial applications, thousand tons of polyphosphonates are introduced every year into the environment. The inherent stability of the C–P bond results in a prolonged half-life. Moreover, low uptake rates limit further their microbial metabolization. To assess whether low detergent concentrations were able to increase polyphosphonate utilization by the cyanobacterium Spirulina platensis, tolerance limits to the exposure to various detergents were determined by measuring the growth rate in the presence of graded levels below the critical micellar concentration. Then, the amount of hexamethylenediamine-N,N,N′,N′-tetrakis(methylphosphonic acid) that is metabolized in the absence or in the presence of sublethal detergent concentrations was quantified by 31P NMR analysis on either P-starved or P-fed cyanobacterial cultures. The strain tolerated the presence of detergents in the order: nonionic > anionic > cationic. When added to the culture medium at the highest concentrations showing no detrimental effects upon cell viability, detergents either improved or decreased polyphosphonate utilization, the anionic sodium dodecyl sulfate being the most beneficial. Metabolization was not lower in P-fed cells—a result that strengthens the possibility of using, in the future, this strain for bioremediation purposes.


Cyanobacteria Hexamethylenediamine-N,N,N′,N′-tetrakis (methylphosphonic acid) Polyphosphonates Spirulina Uptake Xenobiotic degradation 



Support from the University of Ferrara (Fondo di Ateneo per la Ricerca 2010 and 2011) and from Polish National Science Centre (grant 2011/01/B/NZ9/04722) is acknowledged. The authors thank Mr. Amedeo Mazzocco for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe Forlani
    • 1
  • Michele Bertazzini
    • 1
  • Samuele Giberti
    • 1
  • Dorota Wieczorek
    • 2
  • Paweł Kafarski
    • 2
  • Jacek Lipok
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Life Science & BiotechnologyUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of ChemistryOpole UniversityOpolePoland

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