Catabolism of benzene compounds by ascomycetous and basidiomycetous yeasts and yeastlike fungi. A literature review and an experimental approach

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1993 Feb;63(2):125-44. doi: 10.1007/BF00872388.


A literature review is given on growth of yeasts on benzene compounds and on the catabolic pathways involved. Additionally, a yeast collection was screened for assimilation of phenol and 3-hydroxybenzoic acid. Fifteen ascomycetous and thirteen basidiomycetous yeast species were selected and were tested for growth on 84 benzene compounds. It appeared that 63 of these compounds supported growth of one or more yeast species. The black yeast Exophiala jeanselmei assimilated 54 of these compounds. The catechol branch of the 3-oxoadipate pathway and its hydroxyhydroquinone variant were involved in phenol and resorcinol catabolism of ascomycetes as well as of basidiomycetes. However, these two groups of yeasts showed characteristic differences in hydroxybenzoate catabolism. In the yeastlike fungus E. jeanselmei and in basidiomycetes of the genera Cryptococcus, Leucosporidium and Rhodotorula, the protocatechuate branch of the 3-oxoadipate pathway was induced by growth on 3- and 4-hydroxybenzoic acids. In three Trichosporon species and in all ascomycetous yeasts tested, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid was catabolyzed via protocatechuate and hydroxyhydroquinone. These yeasts were unable to cleave protocatechuate. 3-Hydroxybenzoic and 3-hydroxycinnamic acids were catabolized in ascomycetous yeasts via the gentisate pathway, but in basidiomycetes via protocatechuate. Incomplete oxidation of phenol, some chlorophenols, cresols and xylenols was observed in cultures of Candida parapsilosis growing on hydroquinone. Most compounds transformed by the growing culture were also converted by the phenol monooxygenase present in cell-free extracts of this yeast. They did not support growth. The relationship between the ability of ascomycetous yeasts to assimilate n-alkanes, amines and benzene compounds, and the presence of Coenzyme Q9 is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascomycota / classification
  • Ascomycota / growth & development
  • Ascomycota / metabolism*
  • Basidiomycota / classification
  • Basidiomycota / growth & development
  • Basidiomycota / metabolism*
  • Benzene / metabolism*
  • Benzoates / metabolism*
  • Culture Media
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phenols / metabolism*
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism


  • Benzoates
  • Culture Media
  • Phenols
  • Ubiquinone
  • Benzene