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Biodegradation Potential and Ecotoxicity Assessment in Soil Extracts Amended with Phenoxy Acid Herbicide (2,4-D) and a Structurally-Similar Plant Secondary Metabolite (Ferulic Acid)


Phenoxy acid 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxy acid) is one of the most commonly-used herbicide in agriculture. Biodegradation of 2,4-D can be stimulated by structurally-related plant secondary metabolites such as ferulic acid (FA). The aim of this study is to: (1) assess the potential of indigenous soil bacteria to degrade 2,4-D in the presence of FA by PCR analysis of functional tfdA genes, (2) to determine the influence of 2,4-D and FA on samples ecotoxicity using Phytotoxkit® and Microtox® biotests. The detection of tfdA genes varied depending on the enrichment of samples with FA. FA suppressed detection of the tfdA genes, 100 µM 2,4-D induced higher detection of studied amplicons, while 500 µM 2,4-D delayed their detection. The ecotoxicity response was specific and differed between plants (PE% Lepidium sativum >  Sinapis alba >  Sorghum saccharatum) and bacteria (PE% up to 99% for Vibrio fischeri). Our findings confirm that 2,4-D and FA had a toxic influence on the used organisms.

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2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acid


Plant secondary metabolite


Ferulic acid


Percentage effect


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The research was supported by the Student Research Grants programme at University of Lodz: Plants Secondary Metabolites as stimulators of bacterial degradation of 2,4-D and MCPA, and the European Structural and Investment Funds, OP RDE-funded project 'CHEMFELLS4UCTP' (No. CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/17_050/0008485)”.

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Correspondence to Elżbieta Mierzejewska.

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Mierzejewska, E., Baran, A. & Urbaniak, M. Biodegradation Potential and Ecotoxicity Assessment in Soil Extracts Amended with Phenoxy Acid Herbicide (2,4-D) and a Structurally-Similar Plant Secondary Metabolite (Ferulic Acid). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 104, 200–205 (2020).

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  • 2,4-D
  • Biodegradation
  • Plant secondary metabolites
  • Ferulic acid
  • tfdA gene
  • Ecotoxicity