Mineralization and co-metabolic degradation of phenoxyalkanoic acid herbicides by a pure bacterial culture isolated from an aquifer

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2001 Aug;56(3-4):486-90. doi: 10.1007/s002530000589.


A mecoprop [(+/-)-2-(4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy)propionic acid; MCPP]-degrading bacterium identified as Stenotrophomonas maltophilia PM was isolated from a Danish aquifer. Besides mecoprop, the bacterium was also able to degrade MCPA [(4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy)acetic acid)], MCPB [(4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy)butyric acid], 4-CPA [(4-chlorophenoxy)acetic acid], 2, 4-D [(2, 4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid], 2, 4-DP [(+/-)-2-(2, 4-dichlorophenoxy)propionic acid] and 2, 4-DB [(2, 4-dichlorophenoxy)butyric acid]. The bacterium was able to grow using these individual phenoxyalkanoic acids as the sole source of carbon and energy. In addition, it was able to co-metabolically degrade the phenoxyalkanoic acid 2, 4, 5-T [(2, 4, 5-trichlorophenoxy)acetic acid)] in the presence of mecoprop. At high 2, 4, 5-T concentrations (100 and 52 mg/l), however, only partial degradation of both mecoprop and 2, 4, 5-T was obtained, thus indicating the production of toxic metabolites. Bacterial yields were highest when grown on the monochlorinated phenoxyalkanoic acids as compared to the dichlorinated analogues, an exception being growth on 4CPA, which resulted in the lowest yield at all. Using [ring-U-14C]-labeled herbicides it was shown that the lower yield on 2, 4-D than on mecoprop was accompanied by greater CO2 generation, thus indicating that less energy is available from the complete oxidation of the dichlorinated phenoxyalkanoic acids than the monochlorinated analogues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic Acid / metabolism*
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism
  • Fresh Water / microbiology*
  • Herbicides / metabolism*
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia / classification
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia / isolation & purification*
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia / metabolism


  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Herbicides
  • mecoprop
  • 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic Acid
  • 2-Methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic Acid