Applied microbiology and biotechnology

Degradation of paracetamol by pure bacterial cultures and their microbial consortium.

PMID 22644530


Three bacterial strains utilizing paracetamol as the sole carbon, nitrogen, and energy source were isolated from a paracetamol-degrading aerobic aggregate, and assigned to species of the genera Stenotrophomonas and Pseudomonas. The Stenotrophomonas species have not included any known paracetamol degraders until now. In batch cultures, the organisms f1, f2, and fg-2 could perform complete degradation of paracetamol at concentrations of 400, 2,500, and 2,000 mg/L or below, respectively. A combination of three microbial strains resulted in significantly improved degradation and mineralization of paracetamol. The co-culture was able to use paracetamol up to concentrations of 4,000 mg/L, and mineralized 87.1 % of the added paracetamol at the initial of 2,000 mg/L. Two key metabolites of the biodegradation pathway of paracetamol, 4-aminophenol, and hydroquinone were detected. Paracetamol was degraded predominantly via 4-aminophenol to hydroquinone with subsequent ring fission, suggesting new pathways for paracetamol-degrading bacteria. The degradation of paracetamol could thus be performed by the single isolates, but is stimulated by a synergistic interaction of the three-member consortium, suggesting a possible complementary interaction among the various isolates. The exact roles of each of the strains in the consortium need to be further elucidated.