Enzymatic hydrolysis of organophosphate insecticides, a possible pesticide disposal method

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1976 Jul;32(1):7-13. doi: 10.1128/aem.32.1.7-13.1976.


A crude cell extract from a mixed bacterial culture growing on parathion, an organophosphate insecticide, hydrolyzed parathion (21 C) at a rate of 416 nmol/min per mg of protein. This rate of enzymatic hydrolysis, when compared with chemical hydrolysis by 0.1 N sodium hydroxide at 40 C, was 2, 450 times faster. Eight of 12 commonly used organophosphate insecticides were enzymatically hydrolyzed with this enzyme preparation at rates ranging from 12 to 1,360 nmol/min per mg of protein. Seven pesticides were hydrolyzed at rates significantly higher (40 to 1,005 times faster) than chemical hydrolysis. The pH optimum for enzymatic hydrolysis of the eight pesticides ranged from 8.5 to 9.5, with less than 50% of maximal activity expressed at pH 7.0. Maximal enzyme activity occurred at 35 C. The crude extract lost its activity at the rate of only 0.75%/day when stored at 6 C. Eight organic solvents, ranging from methanol to hexane, at low concentrations stimulated enzymatic hydrolysis by 3 to 20%, whereas at higher concentrations (1,000 mg/liter) they inhibited the reaction (9 to 50%). Parathion metabolites p-nitrophenol, hydroquinone, and diethylthiophosphoric acid, at up to 100-mg/liter concentrations, did not significantly influence enzyme activity.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hydrolysis
  • Insecticides / metabolism*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds*
  • Sodium Hydroxide
  • Temperature


  • Insecticides
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Sodium Hydroxide