White rot fungi can oxidize high-molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) rapidly to polar metabolites, but only limited mineralization takes place. The objectives of this study were to determine if the polar metabolites can be readily mineralized by indigenous microflora from several inoculum sources, such as activated sludge, forest soils, and PAH-adapted sediment sludge, and to determine if such metabolites have decreased mutagenicity compared to the mutagenicity of the parent PAH. 14C- radiolabeled benzo [a] pyrene was subjected to oxidation by the white rot fungus Bjerkandera sp. strain BOS55. After 15 days, up to 8.5% of the [14C]benzo[a]pyrene was recovered as 14CO2 in fungal cultures, up to 73% was recovered as water-soluble metabolites, and only 4% remained soluble in dibutyl ether. Thin-layer chromatography analysis revealed that many polar fluorescent metabolites accumulated. Addition of indigenous microflora to fungal cultures with oxidized benzo[a]pyrene on day 15 resulted in an initially rapid increase in the level of 14CO2 recovery to a maximal value of 34% by the end of the experiments (> 150 days), and the level of water- soluble label decreased to 16% of the initial level. In fungal cultures not inoculated with microflora, the level of 14CO2 recovery increased to 13.5%, while the level of recovery of water-soluble metabolites remained as high as 61%. No large differences in 14CO2 production were observed with several inocula, showing that some polar metabolites of fungal benzo[a] pyrene oxidation were readily degraded by indigenous microorganisms, while other metabolites were not. Of the inocula tested, only PAH-adapted sediment sludge was capable of directly mineralizing intact benzo[a] pyrene, albeit at a lower rate and to a lesser extent than the mineralization observed after combined treatment with white rot fungi and indigenous microflora. Fungal oxidation of benzo[a]pyrene resulted in rapid and almost complete elimination of its high mutagenic potential, as observed in the Salmonella typhimurium revertant test performed with strains TA100 and TA98. Moreover, no direct mutagenic metabolite could be detected during fungal oxidation. The remaining weak mutagenic activity of fungal cultures containing benzo [a] pyrene metabolites towards strain TA98 was further decreased by subsequent incubations with indigenous microflora.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology