Degredation of Pyrene

Sanchez, Shannon
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known to be toxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic. They are formed as a result of incomplete combustion of organic materials. These pollutants are known to affect organisms including humans and are currently listed as a major environmental contaminant in the United States and surrounding territories. Research on biodegradation has been performed using microorganisms to degrade these materials to safer compounds. Mycobacterium species M. crocinum czh-3, M. rutilum czh-117, and M. gilvum czh-101 are known to degrade the PAH, pyrene. Although there have been studies using these strains to observe degradation of various PAHs and their mixtures, no study has been performed on the effects a bacteria consortia would have on a single PAH’s degradation. Faster degradation is hypothesized for a consortium of bacteria. To test this hypothesis, degradation rates of single PAHs by bacterial consortia were determined. Through the use of in vitro culturing methods, high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry, the amount of bacterial growth and PAH degradation was monitored. The data were used to determine the synergistic/antagonistic effects of the respective bacteria. One of the future goals is to use the bacterial strain of Mycobacterium in bioaugmentation or introducting a particular bacterial strain to treat contaminated soil, and to see how and if they degrade contaminants in situ, as well as in vitro.
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