Characterization of two novel propachlor degradation pathways in two species of soil bacteria

Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Feb;65(2):802-6. doi: 10.1128/AEM.65.2.802-806.1999.


Propachlor (2-chloro-N-isopropylacetanilide) is an acetamide herbicide used in preemergence. In this study, we isolated and characterized a soil bacterium, Acinetobacter strain BEM2, that was able to utilize this herbicide as the sole and limiting carbon source. Identification of the intermediates of propachlor degradation by this strain and characterization of new metabolites in the degradation of propachlor by a previously reported strain of Pseudomonas (PEM1) support two different propachlor degradation pathways. Washed-cell suspensions of strain PEM1 with propachlor accumulated N-isopropylacetanilide, acetanilide, acetamide, and catechol. Pseudomonas strain PEM1 grew on propachlor with a generation time of 3.4 h and a Ks of 0.17 +/- 0.04 mM. Acinetobacter strain BEM2 grew on propachlor with a generation time of 3.1 h and a Ks of 0.3 +/- 0.07 mM. Incubations with strain BEM2 resulted in accumulation of N-isopropylacetanilide, N-isopropylaniline, isopropylamine, and catechol. Both degradative pathways were inducible, and the principal product of the carbon atoms in the propachlor ring was carbon dioxide. These results and biodegradation experiments with the identified metabolites indicate that metabolism of propachlor by Pseudomonas sp. strain PEM1 proceeds through a different pathway from metabolism by Acinetobacter sp. strain BEM2.

MeSH terms

  • Acetanilides / metabolism*
  • Acinetobacter / isolation & purification
  • Acinetobacter / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Herbicides / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Pseudomonas / isolation & purification
  • Pseudomonas / metabolism*
  • Soil Microbiology


  • Acetanilides
  • Herbicides
  • propachlor