Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 15, pp 11781–11791 | Cite as

Biodegradation of pesticides using fungi species found in the aquatic environment

  • B. R. Oliveira
  • A. Penetra
  • V. V. Cardoso
  • M. J. Benoliel
  • M. T. Barreto Crespo
  • R. A. Samson
  • V. J. Pereira
Research Article


Relatively limited attention has been given to the presence of fungi in the aquatic environment compared to their occurrence in other matrices. Taking advantage and recognizing the biodegradable capabilities of fungi is important, since these organisms may produce many potent enzymes capable of degrading toxic pollutants. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the potential ability of some species of filamentous fungi that occur in the aquatic environment to degrade pesticides in untreated surface water. Several laboratory-scale experiments were performed using the natural microbial population present in the aquatic environment as well as spiked fungi isolates that were found to occur in different water matrices, to test the ability of fungi to degrade several pesticides of current concern (atrazine, diuron, isoproturon and chlorfenvinphos). The results obtained in this study showed that, when spiked in sterile natural water, fungi were able to degrade chlorfenvinphos to levels below detection and unable to degrade atrazine, diuron and isoproturon. Penicillium citrinum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus terreus and Trichoderma harzianum were found to be able to resist and degrade chlorfenvinphos. These fungi are therefore expected to play an important role in the degradation of this and other pollutants present in the aquatic environment.


Fungi Biodegradation Pesticides Surface water 



Financial support from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia—through the project PTDC/AAC-AMB/108303/2008, the grant PEst-OE/EQB/LA0004/2011 and the fellowship BPD/26990/2006—is gratefully acknowledged.

We also thank EPAL as participant institution of the project PTDC/AAC-AMB/108303/2008 for supplying the untreated real water matrices used and for the analysis of the breakdown products.

Vanessa J. Pereira thanks the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University for hosting her as a Visiting Scholar during the academic year 2012/2013.

Supplementary material

11356_2015_4472_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. R. Oliveira
    • 1
  • A. Penetra
    • 2
  • V. V. Cardoso
    • 2
  • M. J. Benoliel
    • 2
  • M. T. Barreto Crespo
    • 1
    • 3
  • R. A. Samson
    • 4
  • V. J. Pereira
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.IBETOeirasPortugal
  2. 2.Empresa Portuguesa das Águas Livres, S.A.LisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto de Tecnologia Química e BiológicaUniversidade Nova de LisboaOeirasPortugal
  4. 4.CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity CentreUtrechtThe Netherlands

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