Formation of Developmentally Toxic Phenanthrene Metabolite Mixtures by Mycobacterium sp. ELW1

Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Aug 1;51(15):8569-8578. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01377. Epub 2017 Jul 20.


Mycobacterium sp. ELW1 co-metabolically degraded up to 1.8 μmol of phenanthrene (PHE) in ∼48 h, and hydroxyphenanthrene (OHPHE) metabolites, including 1-hydroxyphenanthrene (1-OHPHE), 3-hydroxyphenanthrene (3-OHPHE), 4-hydroxyphenanthrene (4-OHPHE), 9-hydroxyphenanthrene (9-OHPHE), 9,10-dihydroxyphenanthrene (1,9-OHPHE), and trans-9,10-dihydroxy-9,10-dihydrophenanthrene (trans-9,10-OHPHE), were identified and quantified over time. The monooxygenase responsible for co-metabolic transformation of PHE was inhibited by 1-octyne. First-order PHE transformation rates, kPHE, and half-lives, t1/2, for PHE-exposed cells were 0.16-0.51 h-1 and 1.4-4.3 h, respectively, and the 1-octyne controls ranged from 0.015-0.10 h-1 to 7.0-47 h, respectively. While single compound standards of PHE and trans-9,10-OHPHE, the major OHPHE metabolite formed by ELW1, were not toxic to embryonic zebrafish (Danio rerio), single compound standards of minor OHPHE metabolites, 1-OHPHE, 3-OHPHE, 4-OHPHE, 9-OHPHE, and 1,9-OHPHE, were toxic, with effective concentrations (EC50's) ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 μM. The metabolite mixtures formed by ELW1, and the reconstructed standard mixtures of the identified OHPHE metabolites, elicited a toxic response in zebrafish for the same three time points. EC50s for the metabolite mixtures formed by ELW1 were lower (more toxic) than those for the reconstructed standard mixtures of the identified OHPHE metabolites. Ten unidentified hydroxy PHE metabolites were measured in the derivatized mixtures formed by ELW1 and may explain the increased toxicity of the ELW1 metabolites mixture relative to the reconstructed standard mixtures of the identified OHPHE metabolites.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mycobacterium*
  • Phenanthrenes / metabolism
  • Phenanthrenes / toxicity*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Zebrafish


  • Phenanthrenes
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • 9,10-dihydroxy-9,10-dihydrophenanthrene
  • 4-hydroxyphenanthrene
  • 9-phenanthrol