Metabolism of anthracene by a Rhodococcus species

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Oct 16;204(1):205-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2001.tb10886.x.


A Rhodococcus sp. isolated from contaminated river sediment was investigated to determine if the isolate could degrade high molecular mass polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The Rhodococcus sp. was able to utilize anthracene (53%), phenanthrene (31%), pyrene (13%), and fluoranthene (5%) as sole source of carbon and energy, but not naphthalene or chrysene. In a study of the degradation of anthracene by a Rhodococcus sp., the identification of ring-fission products indicated at least two ring-cleavage pathways. One results in the production of 6,7-benzocoumarin, previously shown to be produced chemically from the product of meta cleavage of 1,2-dihydroxyanthracene, a pathway which has been well established in Gram-negative bacteria. The second is an ortho cleavage of 1,2-dihydroxyanthracene that produces 3-(2-carboxyvinyl)naphthalene-2-carboxylic acid, a dicarboxylic acid ring-fission product. This represents a novel metabolic pathway only identified in Gram-positive bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthracenes / chemistry
  • Anthracenes / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Culture Media
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / metabolism
  • Rhodococcus / growth & development
  • Rhodococcus / isolation & purification
  • Rhodococcus / metabolism*
  • Water Microbiology
  • Water Pollution


  • Anthracenes
  • Culture Media
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • anthracene