Microbial Detoxification of Residual Organophosphate Pesticides in Agricultural Practices

  • Lata S. B. UpadhyayEmail author
  • Aditya Dutt


Bioremediation is a term which defines the use of microorganisms for the removal of pollutants or other toxic agents from a contaminated site or industrial waste. Microorganisms provide natural defense mechanisms to counter the need to get rid of the pollutants and to maintain a less toxic environment. Almost every industry generates some amount of waste products that are released in the environment leading to pollution and thus efforts are being needed and made to remove these pollutants from the environmental resources or at least detoxify them to prevent their hazardous effect on human population. Agriculture industry directly affects the human health and need in comparison to any other industry. Thus agricultural industry can introduce such contaminants in human system through food chain and web, via water bodies, soil and the food products. However, being the industry which feeds inhabitants of earth, it also remains the most important industry to all mankind. One of the major agricultural contaminant of soil and water bodies is synthetic pesticides routinely used in agricultural practices to enhance the productivity. They can have their health hazardous effect on humans ranging from throat and lung problem, irritation in eyes and even death depending upon the exposure time and quantity.

A major chunk of these synthetic pesticides used involves the use of organophosphate compounds. These compounds are also referred as nerve agents as some of them are used in manufacturing of chemical weapons used by the military forces around the world. The most dangerous are the ones which have a longer shelf life and/or has to be used in high quantity to achieve the desired effect e.g. Coumaphos, Parathion, Methyl parathion etc.. The effects of these compounds on insects and human are same but they are hazardous to human if consumed at a much higher concentration level in comparison to insects due to difference in body mass, as insects have less body mass and are smaller in size. After the agricultural products are harvested, it has been observed that some amount of pesticides remain in the soil leading to soil contamination. When such contaminated soil is washed away by rain or running water they also contaminate the near by water bodies. Prolong persistence of residual pesticides also pollute the water table/ground water reservoirs through percolation across soil bed. The concentration of these toxins in the water bodies can wary depending upon the amount of pesticides used in the area. Process of bio remediation/ microbial detoxification can offer a solution to prevent entry of these toxins to food web and thus protecting humans from its adverse effect. The process of bio remediation can also be easily scaled up or down depending upon the area of impact and would help in keeping the local water bodies and ground water clean. The use of organism which produce organophosphate hydrolase enzyme have the ability to degrade the wide range of organophosphate compounds and can be exploited for the same. The mechanism of their actions and the various improvements in the strains is the main emphasis of this chapter.


Organophosphate compounds Acetylcholinesterase Organophosphorus hydrolase Pesticides 


  1. Aktar MW, Sengupta D, Chowdhury A (2009) Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. Interdiscip Toxicol 2:1–12. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Balthazor TM, Hallas LE (1986) Glyphosate-degrading microorganisms from industrial activated sludge. Appl Environ Microbiol 51:432–434PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Chandra R, Kumar V (2015) Biotransformation and biodegradation of organophosphates and organohalides. Environ Waste Manag:475–524.
  4. Chaudhry GR, Ali AN, Wheeler WB (1988) Isolation of a methyl parathion-degrading Pseudomonas sp. that possesses DNA homologous to the opd gene from a Flavobacterium sp. Appl Environ Microbiol 54:288–293PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen S, Liu C, Peng C et al (2012) Biodegradation of chlorpyrifos and its hydrolysis product 3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridinol by a new fungal strain cladosporium cladosporioides Hu-01. PLoS One 7:e47205. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Cui Z, Li S, Fu G (2001) Isolation of methyl parathion-degrading strain M6 and cloning of the methyl parathion hydrolase gene. Appl Environ Microbiol 67:4922–4925CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cui Z, Zhang R, He J, Li S (2002) Isolation and characterization of a p-nitrophenol degradation Pseudomonas sp. strain P3 and construction of a genetically engineered bacterium. Wei Sheng Wu Xue Bao 42:19–26PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Daughton CG, Hsieh DPH (1977) Parathion utilization by bacterial symbionts in a chemostat. Appl Environ Microbiol 34:175–184PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Dhanya M (2014) Advances in microbial biodegradation of Chlorpyrifos. J Environ Res Develop 9:232–240Google Scholar
  10. Eddleston M, Buckley NA, Eyer P, Dawson AH (2008) Management of acute organophosphorus pesticide poisoning. Lancet 371:597–607. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Eleršek T, Filipič M (2011) Organophosphorus pesticides – mechanisms of their toxicity. Pesticides- the impacts of pesticide exposure. InTech open access publisherGoogle Scholar
  12. Farivar TN, Peymani A, Najafipour R (2017) Biodegradation of Paraoxan as an Organophosphate Pesticide with Pseudomonas plecoglocissida Transfected by opd Gene. Biotech Health Sci 4:1–5.  10.17795/bhs-45055.Research Google Scholar
  13. Garcia SJ, Abu-qare AW, Borton AJ et al (2003) Methyl parathion: a review of health effects. North 6:185–210. Google Scholar
  14. Gomez LE, Lassiter R, Mueller J, Olson B (2009) Use and Benefits of Chlorpyrifos in U. S. Agriculture, pp. 317–337.Google Scholar
  15. Guha A, Kumari B, Bora TC, Roy MK (1997) Possible involvement of plasmids in degradation of malathion and chlorpyriphos by Micrococcus sp. Folia Microbiol (Praha) 42(6):574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gupta RC (2006) Classification and uses of organophosphates and carbamates. Toxicol Organophosphate Carbamate Compd:5–24.
  17. Horne I, Sutherland TD, Harcourt RL et al (2002) Identification of an opd (organophosphate degradation) gene in an Agrobacterium isolate. Appl Environ Microbiol 68:3371–3376. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Horne I, Sutherland TD, Oakeshott JG, Russell RJ (2017) Cloning and expression of the phosphotriesterase gene hocA from Pseudomonas monteilii C11. Sun Microbiol 2230:14–2687Google Scholar
  19. Jaga K, Dharmani C (2003) Sources of exposure to and public health implications of organophosphate pesticides. Rev Panam Salud Publica 14:171–185. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Josephy PD, Mannervik B (2006) Molecular toxicology. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Karami-Mohajeri S, Abdollahi M (2011) Toxic influence of organophosphate, carbamate, and organochlorine pesticides on cellular metabolism of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates: a systematic review. Hum Exp Toxicol 30:1119–1140. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Kertesz MA, Cook AM, Leisinger T (1994) Microbial metabolism of sulfur and phosphorus-containing xenobiotics. FEMS Microbiol Rev 15:195–215. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Klimek M, Lejczak B, Kafarski P, Forlani G (2001) Metabolism of the phosphonate herbicide glyphosate by a non-nitrate-utilizing strain of Penicillium chrysogenum. Pest Manag Sci 57:815–821. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Kwong TC (2002) Organophosphate pesticides: biochemistry and clinical toxicology. Ther Drug Monit 24:144–149. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu C-M, McLean PA, Sookdeo CC, Cannon FC (1991) Degradation of the herbicide glyphosate by members of the family rhizobiaceae. Appl Environ Microbiol 57:1799–1804PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Mallick K, Bharati K, Banerji A et al (1999) Bacterial degradation of chlorpyrifos in pure cultures and in soil. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 62:48–54. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Minton NA, Murray VSG (1988) A review of organophosphate poisoning. Med Toxicol Adverse Drug Exp 3:350–375. PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Moeller DW (2005) Environmental health. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  29. Moretto A (1998) Experimental and clinical toxicology of anticholinesterase agents. Toxicol Lett 102–103:509–513CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Mulbry W (2000) Characterization of a novel organophosphorus hydrolase from Nocardiodes simplex NRRL B-24074. Microbiol Res 154:285–288. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Mulbry W, Ahrens E, Karns J (1998) Use of a field-scale biofilter for the degradation of the organophosphate insecticide coumaphos in cattle dip wastes. Pestic Sci 52:268–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nakayama K, Ohmori T, Ishikawa S et al (2016) Expression of recombinant organophosphorus hydrolase in the original producer of the enzyme, Sphingobium fuliginis ATCC 27551. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 80:1024–1026. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Nelson LM, Yaron B, Nye PH (1982) Biologically-induced hydrolysis of parathion in soil: kinetics and modelling. Soil Biol Biochem 14:223–227. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kanekar P, Bhadbhade BJ, Deshpande NM, Sarnaik SS (2004) Biodegradation of organophosphorous pesticides. Proc Indian Natn Sci Acad B70:57–70Google Scholar
  35. Pehkonen SO, Zhang Q (2010) The degradation of organophosphorus pesticides in natural waters: a critical review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol:37–41Google Scholar
  36. Pipke R, Amrhein N, Jacob GS et al (1987) Metabolism of glyphosate in an Arthrobacter sp. GLP-1. Eur J Biochem 165:267–273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Prieto Garcia F, Cortés Ascencio SY, Oyarzun JCG et al (2012) Pesticides: classification, uses and toxicity. Measures of exposure and genotoxic risks. J Res Environ Sci Toxicol 1:2315–5698Google Scholar
  38. Quinn J, Peden JM, Dick RE (1989) Carbon-phosphorus bond cleavage by Gram-positive and Gram-negative soil bacteria. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 31:283–287. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ragnarsdottir KV (2000) Environmental fate and toxicology of organophosphate pesticides. J Geol Soc London 157:859–876. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rani NL, Lalithakumari D (1994) Degradation of methyl parathion by Pseudomonas putida. Can J Microbiol 40:1000–1006. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Rosenberg A, Alexander M (1979) Microbial cleavage of various organophosphorus insecticides. Appl Environ Microbiol 37:886–891PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Serdar CM, Gibson DT, Munnecke DM (1982) Plasmid involvement in parathion hydrolysis by Pseudomonas diminuta. Appl Environ Microbiol 44:246–249PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Sethunathan N, Yoshida T (1973) A Flavobacterium sp. that degrades diazinon and parathion. Can J Microbiol 19:873–875CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sharmila M, Ramanand K, Sethunathan N (1989) Effect of yeast extract on the degradation of organophosphorus insecticides by soil enrichment and bacterial cultures. Can J Microbiol 35:1105–1110. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shimazu M, Mulchandani A, Chen W (2001) Simultaneous degradation of organophosphorus pesticides and p-nitrophenol by a genetically engineered Moraxella sp. with surface-expressed organophosphorus hydrolase. Biotechnol Bioeng 76:318–324. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Siddaramappa R, Rajaram KP, Sethunathan N (1973) Degradation of parathion by bacteria isolated from flooded soil. Appl Microbiol 26:846–849PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Singh BK, Walker A (2006) Microbial degradation of organophosphorus compounds. FEMS Microbiol Rev 30:428–471. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Singh BK, Walker A, Morgan JAW, Wright DJ (2003a) Role of soil pH in the development of enhanced biodegradation of fenamiphos. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:7035–7043CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Singh BK, Walker A, Morgan JAW, Wright DJ (2003b) Effects of soil pH on the biodegradation of chlorpyrifos and isolation of a chlorpyrifos-degrading bacterium. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:5198–5206. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Singh BK, Walker A, Wright DJ (2005) Cross-enhancement of accelerated biodegradation of organophosphorus compounds in soils: dependence on structural similarity of compounds. Soil Biol Biochem 37:1675–1682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Soltaninejad K, Abdollahi M (2009) Current opinion on the science of organophosphate pesticides and toxic stress: a systematic review. Med Sci Monit 15:RA75–RA90PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Somara S, Siddavattam D (1995) Plasmid mediated organophosphate pesticide degradation by Flavobacterium balustinum. Biochem Mol Biol Int 36:627–631PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Tano J (1996) Identity, physical and chemical properties of pesticides. Pestic Mod World – Trends Pestic Anal 1873:1–18. Google Scholar
  54. Vale JA (1998) Toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic aspects of organophosphorus (OP) insecticide poisoning. Toxicol Lett 102–103:649–652CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Van Scoy A, Pennell A, Zhang X (2016) Environmental fate and toxicology of dimethoate. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 237:53–70. PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Wackett LP, Shames SL, Venditti CP, Walsh CT (1987) Bacterial carbon-phosphorus lyase: products, rates, and regulation of phosphonic and phosphinic acid metabolism. J Bacteriol 169:710–717CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Yadav IC, Devi NL, Syed JH et al (2015a) Current status of persistent organic pesticides residues in air, water, and soil, and their possible effect on neighboring countries: a comprehensive review of India. Sci Total Environ 511:123–137. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Yadav M, Shukla AK, Srivastva N et al (2015b) Utilization of microbial community potential for removal of chlorpyrifos: a review. Crit Rev Biotechnol:1–16.
  59. Yadav M, Srivastva N, Shukla AK et al (2015c) Efficacy of Aspergillus sp. for degradation of chlorpyrifos in batch and continuous aerated packed bed bioreactors. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 175:16–24. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Zboińska E, Maliszewska I, Lejczak B, Kafarski P (1992) Degradation of organophosphonates by Penicillium citrinum. Lett Appl Microbiol 15:269–272. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyNational Institute of TechnologyRaipurIndia

Personalised recommendations