Isolation and identification of nondestructive desulfurization bacterium


A nondestructive desulfurization microorganism has been isolated. The metabolism product analyses show that the strain can be a kind of biocatalyst to oxidize dibenzothiophene (DBT) into 2-hydroxydiphenyl (HBP), therefore the sulfur in DBT is removed selectively. The 16SrRNA information, cell wall analysis, physical, biochemical properties and morphological properties suggest that the isolated strain is Rhodococcus erythropolis. The strain can grow in the basal salts medium (BSM) that DBT concentration is no more than 10 mmol/L, and the optimal DBT concentration for growth is 1 mmol/L, however, the optimal DBT concentration for desulfurization is 0.5 mmol/L. The further research shows that the strain can also desulfur some other organosulfur-containing compounds such as thianaphthene, phenyl sulfide and 4,6-dimethyldibenzothiophene (4,6-DMDBT).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Takashi, O., Yoshikazu, I., Microbial desulfurization of organic sulfur compounds in petroleum, Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem, 1999, 63(1): 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Kodama, K., Umahara, K., Shimiri, K. et al., Identification of microbial products from dibenzothiophene and its proposed oxidation pathway, Agric. Biol. Chem., 1973, 37: 45–50.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Kilbane, II, J. J., Desulfurization of coal: The microbial solution, Trends Biotechnol., 1989, 7: 97–101.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Kevin, A. G., Olga, S. P., Gregory, T. M. et al., Molecular mechanisms of biocatalytic desulfurization of fossil fuels, Nature Biotechnology, 1996, 14(12): 1705–1709.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Christopher, O., Olga, P., Julie, S. et al., Elucidation of the metabolic pathway for dibenzothiophene desulphurization by Rhodococcus sp., strain IGTS8 (ATCC 53968), Microbiology, 1997, 143: 2961–2973.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Omori, T., Monna, L., Saiki, Y. et al., Desulfurization of dibenzothiophene by Corynebacterium sp. strain SY1, Applied. Environmental Microbiology, 1992, 58(3): 911–915.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Sung-Keun, R., Je, H. C., Young, K. C. et al., Desulfurization of dibenzothiophene and diesel oils by a newly isolated Gordona strain CYSK1, Applied Environmental Microbiology, 1998, 64(6): 2327–2331.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Jiang, C. Y., Studies on biocatalytic removal of sulfur compounds in diesel oil, Ph. D Dissertation (in Chinese), Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2001.

  9. 9.

    Kilbane, II, J. J., Mutant microorganisms useful for cleavage of organic C-S bonds, US Patent, 1992, 5 104–801.

  10. 10.

    Denome, S. A., Olson, E. S., Young, K. D., Identification and cloning of genes involved in specific desulfurization of dibenzothiophene by Rhodococcus sp. strain, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 1993, 59(9): 2837–2843.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Mamie, Z. L., Charles, H. S., Daniel, J. et al., Genetic analysis of the dsz promoter and associated regulatory regions of Rhodoccus erythropolis IGTS8, Journal of Bacteriology, 1996, 178(11): 6409–6418.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Xu, P., Li, F. L., Yu, J. et al., Microbial desulfurization of fuel oil, Chinese Science Bulletin, 2002, 47(5): 365–369.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Kevin, A. G., Olga, S. P., Gregory, T. M. et al., Molecular mechanisms of biocatalytic desulfurization of fossil fuels, Nature Biotechnology, 1996, 14(12): 1705–1709.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kilbane, II, J. J., Enzymes fromRhodococcus rhodochrous strain A7CC No. 53968, Bacillus sphaericus strain ATCC No. 53969 and mixtures thereof for cleavage of organic C-S bonds carbonaceous material, US Patent, 1992, 5 132 219.

  15. 15.

    Kilbane, II, J. J., Process for enzymatic cleavage of C-S bonds and process for reducing the sulfur content of sulfur-containing organic carbonaceous material, US Patent, 1994, 5 344 778.

  16. 16.

    Kilbane, II, J. J., Microbial cleavage of organic C-S bonds, US Patent, 1994, 5 358 869.

  17. 17.

    Monticello, D. J., Continuous process for biocatalytic desulfurization of sulfur-bearing heterocyclic molecules, US Patent, 1995,5 472 875.

  18. 18.

    Monticello, D. J., Multistage process for deep desulfurization of fossil fuels, US Patent, 1993, 5 387 523.

  19. 19.

    Monticello, D. J., Process for the desulfurization and the desalting of a fossil fuel, US Patent, 1996, 5 496 729.

  20. 20.

    Morio, K., Toshimitsu, O., Yoshitaka, I. et al., Desulfurization of alkylated forms of both dibenzothiophene and benzothiophene by a single bacterial strain, FEMS Microbiology Letters, 2000, 187: 123–126.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Zhongxuan Gou or Huizhou Liu or Mingfang Luo or Shan Li or Jianmin Xing or Jiayong Chen.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gou, Z., Liu, H., Luo, M. et al. Isolation and identification of nondestructive desulfurization bacterium. Sc. China Ser. B-Chem. 45, 521 (2002).

Download citation


  • dibenzothiophene
  • isolation
  • identification
  • biodesulfurization
  • Rhodococcus erythropolis