The role of a groundwater bacterial community in the degradation of the herbicide terbuthylazine

Anna Barra Caracciolo, Carmen Fajardo, Paola Grenni, Maria Ludovica Saccà, Stefano Amalfitano, Roberto Ciccoli, Margarita Martin, Alicia Gibello

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A bacterial community in an aquifer contaminated by s-triazines was studied. Groundwater microcosms were treated with terbuthylazine at a concentration of 100 μg L-1and degradation of the herbicide was assessed. The bacterial community structure (abundance and phylogenetic composition) and function (carbon production and cell viability) were analysed. The bacterial community was able to degrade the terbuthylazine; in particular, Betaproteobacteria were involved in the herbicide biotransformation. Identification of some bacterial isolates by PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene revealed the presence of two Betaproteobacteria species able to degrade the herbicide: Advenella incenata and Janthinobacterium lividum. PCR detection of the genes encoding s-triazine-degrading enzymes indicated the presence of the atzA and atzB genes in A. incenata and the atzB and atzC genes in J. lividum. The nucleotide sequences of the PCR fragments of the atz genes from these strains were 100% identical to the homologous genes of the Pseudomonas sp. strain ADP. In conclusion, the results show the potential for the use of a natural attenuation strategy in the treatment of aquifers polluted with the terbuthylazine. The two bacteria isolated could facilitate the implementation of effective bioremediation protocols, especially in the case of the significant amounts of herbicide that can be found in groundwater as a result of accidental spills. © 2009 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127 - 136
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Cite this

Barra Caracciolo, A., Fajardo, C., Grenni, P., Saccà, M. L., Amalfitano, S., Ciccoli, R., Martin, M., & Gibello, A. (2010). The role of a groundwater bacterial community in the degradation of the herbicide terbuthylazine. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 71(1), 127 - 136.