Sphingobium fuliginis HC3: A Novel and Robust Isolated Biphenyl- and Polychlorinated Biphenyls-Degrading Bacterium without Dead-End Intermediates Accumulation

Biphenyl and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are typical environmental pollutants. However, these pollutants are hard to be totally mineralized by environmental microorganisms. One reason for this is the accumulation of dead-end intermediates during biphenyl and PCBs biodegradation, especially benzoate and chlorobenzoates (CBAs). Until now, only a few microorganisms have been reported to have the ability to completely mineralize biphenyl and PCBs. In this research, a novel bacterium HC3, which could degrade biphenyl and PCBs without dead-end intermediates accumulation, was isolated from PCBs-contaminated soil and identified as Sphingobium fuliginis. Benzoate and 3-chlorobenzoate (3-CBA) transformed from biphenyl and 3-chlorobiphenyl (3-CB) could be rapidly degraded by HC3. This strain has strong degradation ability of biphenyl, lower chlorinated (mono-, di- and tri-) PCBs as well as mono-CBAs, and the biphenyl/PCBs catabolic genes of HC3 are cloned on its plasmid. It could degrade 80.7% of 100 mg L −1 biphenyl within 24 h and its biphenyl degradation ability could be enhanced by adding readily available carbon sources such as tryptone and yeast extract. As far as we know, HC3 is the first reported that can degrade biphenyl and 3-CB without accumulation of benzoate and 3-CBA in the genus Sphingobium, which indicates the bacterium has the potential to totally mineralize biphenyl/PCBs and might be a good candidate for restoring biphenyl/PCBs-polluted environments.