Biotransformation of β-hexachlorocyclohexane by the saprotrophic soil fungus Penicillium griseofulvum

Andrea Ceci, Lucia Pierro, Carmela Riccardi, Flavia Pinzari, Oriana Maggi, Anna Maria Persiani, Geoffrey Michael Gadd, Marco Petrangeli Papini (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


β-Hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) is a persistent organic pollutant (POP) of global concern with potentially toxic effects on humans and ecosystems. Fungal tolerance and biotransformation of toxic substances hold considerable promise in environmental remediation technologies as many fungi can tolerate extreme environmental conditions and possess efficient extracellular degradative enzymes with relatively non-specific activities. In this research, we have investigated the potential of a saprotrophic soil fungus, Penicillium griseofulvum Dierckx, isolated from soils with high concentrations of isomers of hexachlorocyclohexane, to biotransform β-HCH, the most recalcitrant isomer to microbial activity. The growth kinetics of the fungus were characterized after growth in stirred liquid Czapek-Dox medium. It was found that P. griseofulvum was able to grow in the presence of 1mgL-1 β-HCH and in stressful nutritional conditions at different concentrations of sucrose in the medium (0 and 5gL-1). The effects of β-HCH and the toluene, used as a solvent for β-HCH addition, on P. griseofulvum were investigated by means of a Phenotype MicroArray™ technique, which suggested the activation of certain metabolic pathways as a response to oxidative stress due to the presence of the xenobiotics. Gas chromatographic analysis of β-HCH concentration confirmed biodegradation of the isomer with a minimum value of β-HCH residual concentration of 18.6%. The formation of benzoic acid derivatives as dead-end products of β-HCH biotransformation was observed and this could arise from a possible biodegradation pathway for β-HCH with important connections to fungal secondary metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
Early online date10 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Biodegradation
  • Biotransformation
  • Penicillium griseofulvum
  • Phenotype microarray
  • Soil fungi
  • β-Hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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