Eight marine-derived fungi that were previously selected for their abilities to decolorize RBBR dye were subjected to pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene degradation. The fungus Aspergillus sclerotiorum CBMAI 849 showed the best performance with regard to pyrene (99.7%) and benzo[a]pyrene (76.6%) depletion after 8 and 16 days, respectively. Substantial amounts of benzo[a]pyrene (>50.0%) depletion were also achieved by Mucor racemosus CBMAI 847. Therefore, these two fungal strains were subjected to metabolism evaluation using the HPLC-DAD-MS technique. The results showed that A. sclerotiorum CBMAI 849 and M. racemosus CBMAI 847 were able to metabolize pyrene to the corresponding pyrenylsulfate and were able to metabolize benzo[a]pyrene to benzo[a]pyrenylsulfate, suggesting that the mechanism of hydroxylation is mediated by a cytochrome P-450 monooxygenase, followed by conjugation with sulfate ions. Because these fungi were adapted to the marine environment, the strains that were used in the present study are considered to be attractive targets for the bioremediation of saline environments, such as ocean and marine sediments that are contaminated by PAHs.
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