Cytochromes P450-mediated degradation of fuel oxygenates by environmental isolates

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2010 May;72(2):289-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2010.00847.x. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


The degradation of fuel oxygenates [methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) and tert-amyl methyl ether (TAME)] by Rhodococcus ruber IFP 2001, Rhodococcus zopfii IFP 2005 and Gordonia sp. IFP 2009 (formerly Mycobacterium sp.) isolated from different environments was compared. Strains IFP 2001, IFP 2005 and IFP 2009 grew on ETBE due in part to the activity of a cytochrome P450, CYP249. All of these strains were able to degrade ETBE to tert-butyl alcohol and are harboring the CYP249 cytochrome P450. They were also able to degrade MTBE and TAME, but ETBE was degraded in all cases most efficiently, with degradation rates measured after growth on ETBE of 2.1, 3.5 and 1.6 mmol ETBE g(-1) dry weight h(-1) for strains IFP 2001, IFP 2005 and IFP 2009, respectively. The phylogenetic relationships between the different ethR (encoding the regulator) and ethB (encoding the cytochrome P450) genes were determined and showed high identity between different ethB genes (>99%). Only ETBE was able to induce the expression of ethB in strains IFP 2001 and IFP 2005 as measured by reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR. Our results are a first indication of the possible role played by the ethB gene in the ecology of ETBE degradation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Culture Media
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Ethyl Ethers / metabolism*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Methyl Ethers / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Rhodococcus / enzymology*
  • Rhodococcus / genetics
  • Rhodococcus / growth & development
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Ethyl Ethers
  • Methyl Ethers
  • methyl tert-butyl ether
  • ethyl tert-butyl ether
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • tertiary-amyl methyl ether