Anaerobic-aerobic process for microbial degradation of tetrabromobisphenol A

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Jun;66(6):2372-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.66.6.2372-2377.2000.


Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) is a flame retardant that is used as an additive during manufacturing of plastic polymers and electronic circuit boards. Little is known about the fate of this compound in the environment. In the current study we investigated biodegradation of TBBPA, as well as 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TBP), in slurry of anaerobic sediment from a wet ephemeral desert stream bed contaminated with chemical industry waste. Anaerobic incubation of the sediment with TBBPA and peptone-tryptone-glucose-yeast extract medium resulted in a 80% decrease in the TBBPA concentration and accumulation of a single metabolite. This metabolite was identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) as nonbrominated bisphenol A (BPA). On the other hand, TBP was reductively dehalogenated to phenol, which was further metabolized under anaerobic conditions. BPA persisted in the anaerobic slurry but was degraded aerobically. A gram-negative bacterium (strain WH1) was isolated from the contaminated soil, and under aerobic conditions this organism could use BPA as a sole carbon and energy source. During degradation of BPA two metabolites were detected in the culture medium, and these metabolites were identified by GC-MS and high-performance liquid chromatography as 4-hydroxybenzoic acid and 4-hydroxyacetophenone. Both of those compounds were utilized by WH1 as carbon and energy sources. Our findings demonstrate that it may be possible to use a sequential anaerobic-aerobic process to completely degrade TBBPA in contaminated soils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / growth & development
  • Bacteria, Anaerobic / metabolism*
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Culture Media
  • Gram-Negative Aerobic Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Negative Aerobic Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Industrial Waste
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / metabolism*
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Pollutants / metabolism


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Culture Media
  • Industrial Waste
  • Phenols
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • Water Pollutants
  • tetrabromobisphenol A
  • bisphenol A