Monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation by Rhodococcus sp. strain DK17

Dockyu Kim, Young Soo Kim, Seong Ki Kim, Si Wouk Kim, Gerben J. Zylstra, Young Min Kim, Eungbin Kim

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114 Citations (Scopus)


Rhodococcus sp. strain DK17 was isolated from soil and analyzed for the ability to grow on o-xylene as the sole carbon and energy source. Although DK17 cannot grow on m- and p-xylene, it is capable of growth on benzene, phenol, toluene, ethylbenzene, isopropylbenzene, and other alkylbenzene isomers. One UV-generated mutant strain, DK176, simultaneously lost the ability to grow on o-xylene, ethylbenzene, isopropylbenzene, toluene, and benzene, although it could still grow on phenol. The mutant strain was also unable to oxidize indole to indigo following growth in the presence of o-xylene. This observation suggests the loss of an oxygenase that is involved in the initial oxidation of the (alkyl)benzenes tested. Another mutant strain, DK180, isolated for the inability to grow on o-xylene, retained the ability to grow on benzene but was unable to grow on alkylbenzenes due to loss of a meta-cleavage dioxygenase needed for metabolism of methyl-substituted catechols. Further experiments showed that DK180 as well as the wild-type strain DK17 have an ortho-cleavage pathway which is specifically induced by benzene but not by o-xylene. These results indicate that DK17 possesses two different ring-cleavage pathways for the degradation of aromatic compounds, although the initial oxidation reactions may be catalyzed by a common oxygenase. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and 300-MHz proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry clearly show that DK180 accumulates 3,4-dimethylcatechol from o-xylene and both 3- and 4-methylcatechol from toluene. This means that there are two initial routes of oxidation of toluene by the strain. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis demonstrated the presence of two large megaplasmids in the wild-type strain DK17, one of which (pDK2) was lost in the mutant strain DK176. Since several other independently derived mutant strains unable to grow on alkylbenzenes are also missing pDK2, the genes encoding the initial steps in alkylbenzene metabolism (but not phenol metabolism) appear to be present on this approximately 330-kb plasmid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3270-3278
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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