Identification of the intermediates of in vivo oxidation of 1 ,4-dioxane by monooxygenase-containing bacteria

Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Nov 1;41(21):7330-6. doi: 10.1021/es0705745.


1,4-dioxane is a probable human carcinogen and an emerging water contaminant. Monooxygenase-expressing bacteria have been shown to degrade dioxane via growth-supporting as well as cometabolic mechanisms. In this study, the intermediates of dioxane degradation by monooxygenase-expressing bacteria were determined by triple quadrupole-mass spectrometry and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance-mass spectrometry. The major intermediates were identified as 2-hydroxyethoxyacetic acid (HEAA), ethylene glycol, glycolate, and oxalate. Studies with uniformly labeled 14C dioxane showed that over 50% of the dioxane was mineralized to CO2 by CB1190, while 5% became biomass-associated after 48 h. Volatile organic acids and non-volatiles, respectively, accounted for 20 and 11% of the radiolabeled carbon. Although strains cometabolizing dioxane exhibited limited transformation capacities, nearly half of the initial dioxane was recovered as CO2. On the basis of these analytical results, we propose a pathway for dioxane oxidation by monooxygenase-expressing cells in which dioxane is first converted to 2-hydroxy-1,4-dioxane, which is spontaneously oxidized to HEAA. During a second monooxygenation step, HEAA is further hydroxylated, resulting in a mixture of dihydroxyethoxyacetic acids with a hydroxyl group at the ortho or para position. After cleavage of the second ether bond, small organic molecules such as ethylene glycol, glycolate, glyoxalate, and oxalate are progressively formed, which are then mineralized to CO2 via common cellular metabolic pathways. Bioremediation of dioxane via this pathway is not expected to cause an accumulation of toxic compounds in the environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Dioxanes / metabolism*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Acetates
  • Dioxanes
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • beta-hydroxyethoxyacetic acid
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • 1,4-dioxane