Fungal biodegradation of anthracene-polluted cork: A comparative study

J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2016;51(1):70-7. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2015.1079114. Epub 2015 Nov 5.


The efficiency of cork waste in adsorbing aqueous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been previously reported. Biodegradation of contaminated cork using filamentous fungi could be a good alternative for detoxifying cork to facilitate its final processing. For this purpose, the degradation efficiency of anthracene by three ligninolytic white-rot fungi (Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Irpex lacteus and Pleurotus ostreatus) and three non-ligninolytic fungi which are found in the cork itself (Aspergillus niger, Penicillium simplicissimum and Mucor racemosus) are compared. Anthracene degradation by all fungi was examined in solid-phase cultures after 0, 16, 30 and 61 days. The degradation products of anthracene by P. simplicissimum and I. lacteus were also identified by GC-MS and a metabolic pathway was proposed for P. simplicissimum. Results show that all the fungi tested degraded anthracene. After 61 days of incubation, approximately 86%, 40%, and 38% of the initial concentration of anthracene (i.e., 100 µM) was degraded by P. simplicissimum, P. chrysosporium and I. lacteus, respectively. The rest of the fungi degraded anthracene to a lesser extent (<30%). As a final remark, the results obtained in this study indicate that P. simplicissimum, a non-ligninolytic fungi characteristic of cork itself, could be used as an efficient degrader of PAH-contaminated cork.

Keywords: Penicillium simplicissimum; Quercus suber L.; anthracene; biodegradation; bioremediation; ligninolytic fungi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthracenes / analysis*
  • Anthracenes / metabolism*
  • Aspergillus niger / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Hazardous Substances / analysis
  • Hazardous Substances / metabolism
  • Mucor / metabolism*
  • Penicillium / metabolism*
  • Phanerochaete / metabolism*
  • Pleurotus / metabolism*
  • Quercus
  • Spain


  • Anthracenes
  • Hazardous Substances
  • anthracene