Characterization of an atrazine-degrading Pseudaminobacter sp. isolated from Canadian and French agricultural soils

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Jul;66(7):2773-82. doi: 10.1128/AEM.66.7.2773-2782.2000.


Atrazine, a herbicide widely used in corn production, is a frequently detected groundwater contaminant. Fourteen bacterial strains able to use this herbicide as a sole source of nitrogen were isolated from soils obtained from two farms in Canada and two farms in France. These strains were indistinguishable from each other based on repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR genomic fingerprinting performed with primers ERIC1R, ERIC2, and BOXA1R. Based on 16S rRNA sequence analysis of one representative isolate, strain C147, the isolates belong to the genus Pseudaminobacter in the family Rhizobiaceae. Strain C147 did not form nodules on the legumes alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), and soybean (Glycine max L.). A number of chloro-substituted s-triazine herbicides were degraded, but methylthio-substituted s-triazine herbicides were not degraded. Based on metabolite identification data, the fact that oxygen was not required, and hybridization of genomic DNA to the atzABC genes, atrazine degradation occurred via a series of hydrolytic reactions initiated by dechlorination and followed by dealkylation. Most strains could mineralize [ring-U-(14)C]atrazine, and those that could not mineralize atrazine lacked atzB or atzBC. The atzABC genes, which were plasmid borne in every atrazine-degrading isolate examined, were unstable and were not always clustered together on the same plasmid. Loss of atzB was accompanied by loss of a copy of IS1071. Our results indicate that an atrazine-degrading Pseudaminobacter sp. with remarkably little diversity is widely distributed in agricultural soils and that genes of the atrazine degradation pathway carried by independent isolates of this organism are not clustered, can be independently lost, and may be associated with a catabolic transposon. We propose that the widespread distribution of the atrazine-degrading Pseudaminobacter sp. in agricultural soils exposed to atrazine is due to the characteristic ability of this organism to utilize alkylamines, and therefore atrazine, as sole sources of carbon when the atzABC genes are acquired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Atrazine / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Canada
  • France
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, rRNA
  • Herbicides / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Rhizobiaceae / classification
  • Rhizobiaceae / genetics
  • Rhizobiaceae / isolation & purification
  • Rhizobiaceae / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Herbicides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Atrazine