Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Process Engineering, Biotechnology, Nutrition Technology
Abstract The mechanism of phenanthrene transfer to the bacteria during biodegradation by a Pseudomonas strain was investigated using a sensitive respirometric technique (Sapromat equipment) allowing the quasi-continuous acquisition of data on oxygen consumption. Several systems of phenanthrene supply, crystalline solid and solutions in non-water-miscible solvents (silicone oil and 2,2,4,4,6,8,8-heptamethylnonane) were studied. In all cases, analysis of the kinetics of oxygen consumption demonstrated an initial phase of exponential growth with the same specific growth rate. In order to analyze the second phase of growth and phenanthrene degradation, a study of the kinetics of phenanthrene transfer to the aqueous phase was conducted by direct experimentation, with the crystal and silicone oil systems, in abiotic conditions. The data allowed the validation of a model based on phase-transfer laws, describing the variations, with substrate concentrations, of rates of phenanthrene transfer to the aqueous phase. Analysis of the biodegradation curves then showed that exponential growth ended in all cases when the rates of phenanthrene consumption reached the maximal transfer rates. Thereafter, the biodegradation rates closely obeyed, for all systems, the transfer rate values given by the model. These results unambiguously demonstrated that, in the present case, phenanthrene biodegradation required prior transfer to the aqueous phase. With the silicone oil system, which allowed high transfer and biodegradation rates, phenanthrene was directed towards higher metabolite production and lower mineralization, as shown by oxygen consumption and carbon balance determinations.
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