, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 69–77 | Cite as

Biodegradation of the Phenylurea Herbicide Isoproturon and its Metabolites in Agricultural Soils

  • Sebastian R. Sørensen
  • Jens Aamand


Degradation of the phenylurea herbicide isoproturon (3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea) and several phenylurea and aniline metabolites was studied in agricultural soils previously exposed to isoproturon. The potential for degradation of the demethylated metabolite 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea in the soils was much higher compared to isoproturon. In the most active soil only 6% of added 14C-labelled isoproturon was mineralised to 14C2 within 20 days while in the same period 45% of added 14C-labelled 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea was mineralized. This indicates that the initial N-demethylation may be a limiting step in the complete mineralization of isoproturon. Repeated addition of 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea to the soil and further subculturing in mineral medium led to a highly enriched mixed bacterial culture with the ability to mineralize 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea.The culture did not degrade either isoproturon or the didemethylatedmetabolite 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-urea when provided as sole source of carbon and energy. The metabolite 4-isopropyl-aniline was also degraded and utilised for growth, thus indicating that 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea is degraded byan initial cleavage of the methylurea-group followed by mineralizationof the phenyl-moiety. Several attempts were made to isolate pure bacterial cultures degrading 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea or 4-isopropyl-aniline,but they were not successful.

agricultural soils isoproturon metabolites mineralization mixed bacterial culture 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian R. Sørensen
    • 1
  • Jens Aamand
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeochemistryGeological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS)CopenhagenDenmark

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