Biodegradation of alpha- and beta-endosulfan by soil bacteria

Biodegradation. 2007 Dec;18(6):731-40. doi: 10.1007/s10532-007-9102-1. Epub 2007 Jan 25.


Extensive applications of persistent organochlorine pesticides like endosulfan on cotton have led to the contamination of soil and water environments at several sites in Pakistan. Microbial degradation offers an effective approach to remove such toxicants from the environment. This study reports the isolation of highly efficient endosulfan degrading bacterial strains from soil. A total of 29 bacterial strains were isolated through enrichment technique from 15 specific sites using endosulfan as sole sulfur source. The strains differed substantially in their potential to degrade endosulfan in vitro ranging from 40 to 93% of the spiked amount (100 mg l(-1)). During the initial 3 days of incubation, there was very little degradation but it got accelerated as the incubation period proceeded. Biodegradation of endosulfan by these bacteria also resulted in substantial decrease in pH of the broth from 8.2 to 3.7 within 14 days of incubation. The utilization of endosulfan was accompanied by increased optical densities (OD(595)) of the broth ranging from 0.511 to 0.890. High performance liquid chromatography analyses revealed that endosulfan diol and endosulfan ether were among the products of endosulfan metabolism by these bacterial strains while endosulfan sulfate, a persistent and toxic metabolite of endosulfan, was not detected in any case. The presence of endosulfan diol and endosulfan ether in the bacterial metabolites was further confirmed by GC-MS. Abiotic degradation contributed up to 21% of the spiked amount. The three bacterial strains, Pseudomonas spinosa, P. aeruginosa, and Burkholderia cepacia, were the most efficient degraders of both alpha- and beta-endosulfan as they consumed more than 90% of the spiked amount (100 mg l(-1)) in the broth within 14 days of incubation. Maximum biodegradation by these three selected efficient bacterial strains was observed at an initial pH of 8.0 and at an incubation temperature of 30 degrees C. The results of this study may imply that these bacterial strains could be employed for bioremediation of endosulfan polluted soil and water environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Endosulfan / chemistry
  • Endosulfan / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Isomerism
  • Soil Microbiology*
  • Soil Pollutants / isolation & purification
  • Temperature


  • Soil Pollutants
  • Endosulfan