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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Biodegradation of phenols by the alga Ochromonas danica.

The eukaryotic alga Ochromonas danica, a nutritionally versatile, mixotrophic chrysophyte, grew on phenol as the sole carbon source in axenic culture and removed the phenol carbon from the growth medium. Respirometric studies confirmed that the enzymes involved in phenol catabolism were inducible and that the alga oxidized phenol; the amount of oxygen consumed per mole of oxidized substrate was approximately 65% of the theoretical value. [U-14C]phenol was completely mineralized, with 65% of the 14C label appearing as 14CO2, approximately 15% remaining in the aqueous medium, and the rest accounted for in the biomass. Analysis of the biomass showed that 14C label had been incorporated into the protein, nucleic acid, and lipid fractions; phenol carbon is thus unequivocally assimilated by the alga. Phenol-grown cultures of O. danica converted phenols to the corresponding catechols, which were further metabolized by the meta-cleavage pathway. This surprising result was rigorously confirmed by taking the working stock culture through a variety of procedures to check that it was axenic and repeating the experiments with algal extracts. This is, as far as is known, the first definitive identification of the meta-cleavage pathway for aromatic ring degradation in a eukaryotic alga, though its incidence in other eukaryotes has been (infrequently) suggested.[1]


  1. Biodegradation of phenols by the alga Ochromonas danica. Semple, K.T., Cain, R.B. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (1996) [Pubmed]
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