A new Rhodococcus aetherivorans strain isolated from lubricant-contaminated soil as a prospective phenol biodegrading agent

Taisiya Nogina, Marina Fomina, Tatiana Dumanskaya, Liubov Zelena, Lyudmila Khomenko, Sergey Mikhalovsky, Valentin Podgorskyi, Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
116 Downloads (Pure)


Microbe-based decontamination of phenol-polluted environments has significant advantages over physical and chemical approaches by being relatively cheaper and ensuring complete phenol degradation. There is a need to search for commercially prospective bacterial strains that are resistant to phenol and other co-pollutants, e.g. oil hydrocarbons, in contaminated environments, and able to carry out efficient phenol biodegradation at a variable range of concentrations. This research characterizes the phenol-biodegrading ability of a new actinobacteria strain isolated from a lubricant-contaminated soil environment. Phenotypic and phylogenetic analyses showed that the novel strain UCM Ac-603 belonged to the species Rhodococcus aetherivorans, and phenol degrading ability was quantitatively characterized for the first time. R. aetherivorans UCM Ac-603 tolerated and assimilated phenol (100% of supplied concentration) and various hydrocarbons (56.2–94.4%) as sole carbon sources. Additional nutrient supplementation was not required for degradation and this organism could grow at a phenol concentration of 500 mg L −1 without inhibition. Complete phenol assimilation occurred after 4 days at an initial concentration of 1750 mg L −1 for freely-suspended cells and at 2000 mg L −1 for vermiculite-immobilized cells: 99.9% assimilation of phenol was possible from a total concentration of 3000 mg L −1 supplied at daily fractional phenol additions of 750 mg L −1 over 4 days. In terms of phenol degradation rates, R. aetherivorans UCM Ac-602 showed efficient phenol degradation over a wide range of initial concentrations with the rates (e.g. 35.7 mg L −1 h −1 at 500 mg L −1 phenol, and 18.2 mg L −1 h −1 at 1750 mg L −1 phenol) significantly exceeding (1.2–5 times) reported data for almost all other phenol-assimilating bacteria. Such efficient phenol degradation ability compared to currently known strains and other beneficial characteristics of R. aetherivorans UCM Ac-602 suggest it is a promising candidate for bioremediation of phenol-contaminated environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3611-3625
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number8
Early online date11 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Actinobacteria
  • Bioremediation
  • Cell immobilization
  • Phenol biodegradation
  • Rhodococcus aetherivorans
  • Xenobiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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