Biodegradation of diphenyl ether and transformation of selected brominated congeners by Sphingomonas sp. PH-07

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 Nov;77(1):187-94. doi: 10.1007/s00253-007-1129-z. Epub 2007 Aug 11.


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are common flame-retardant chemicals that are used in diverse commercial products such as textiles, circuit boards, and plastics. Because of the widespread production and improper disposal of materials that contain PBDEs, there has been an increasing accumulation of these compounds in the environment. The toxicity and bioavailability of PBDEs are variable for different congeners, with some congeners showing dioxin-like activities and estrogenicity. The diphenyl ether-utilizing bacterium Sphingomonas sp. PH-07 was enriched from activated sludge of a wastewater treatment plant. In liquid cultures, this strain mineralized 1 g of diphenyl ether per liter completely within 6 days. The metabolites detected and identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (MS) and electrospray ionization/MS analysis corresponded with a feasible degradative pathway. However, the strain PH-07 even catabolized several brominated congeners such as mono-, di-, and tribrominated diphenyl ethers thereby producing the corresponding metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Phenyl Ethers / chemistry
  • Phenyl Ethers / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Sphingomonas / metabolism*


  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated
  • Phenyl Ethers
  • phenyl ether
  • Oxygen