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Applied and environmental microbiology

Microbial anaerobic demethylation and dechlorination of chlorinated hydroquinone metabolites synthesized by basidiomycete fungi.


PMID 14711667

Abstract

The synthesis and degradation of anthropogenic and natural organohalides are the basis of a global halogen cycle. Chlorinated hydroquinone metabolites (CHMs) synthesized by basidiomycete fungi and present in wetland and forest soil are constituents of that cycle. Anaerobic dehalogenating bacteria coexist with basidiomycete fungi in soils and sediments, but little is known about the fate of these halogenated fungal compounds. In sediment microcosms, the CHMs 2,3,5,6-tetrachloro-1,4-dimethoxybenzene and 2,3,5,6-tetrachloro-4-methoxyphenol (TCMP) were anaerobically demethylated to tetrachlorohydroquinone (TCHQ). Subsequently, TCHQ was converted to trichlorohydroquinone and 2,5-dichlorohydroquinone (2,5-DCHQ) in freshwater and estuarine enrichment cultures. Screening of several dehalogenating bacteria revealed that Desulfitobacterium hafniense strains DCB2 and PCP1, Desulfitobacterium chlororespirans strain Co23, and Desulfitobacterium dehalogenans JW/DU1 sequentially dechlorinate TCMP to 2,3,5-trichloro-4-methoxyphenol and 3,5-dichloro-4-methoxyphenol (3,5-DCMP). After a lag, these strains demethylate 3,5-DCMP to 2,6-DCHQ, which is then completely dechlorinated to 1,4-dihydroquinone (HQ). 2,5-DCHQ accumulated as an intermediate during the dechlorination of TCHQ to HQ by the TCMP-degrading desulfitobacteria. HQ accumulation following TCMP or TCHQ dechlorination was transient and became undetectable after 14 days, which suggests mineralization of the fungal compounds. This is the first report on the anaerobic degradation of fungal CHMs, and it establishes a fundamental role for microbial reductive degradation of natural organochlorides in the global halogen cycle.

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