Author(s): Debruyn JM, Chewning CS, Sayler GS
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Abstract The Chattanooga Creek Superfund site is heavily contaminated with metals, pesticides, and coal tar with sediments exhibiting high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). High molecular weight PAHs are of concern because of their toxicity and recalcitrance in the environment; as such, there is great interest in microbes, such as fast-growing Mycobacterium spp., capable of degradation of these compounds. Real-time quantitative PCR assays were developed targeting multiple dioxygenase genes to assess the ecology and functional diversity of PAH-degrading communities. These assays target the Mycobacterium nidA, beta-proteobacteria nagAc, and gamma-proteobacteria nahAc with the specific goal of testing the hypothesis that Mycobacteria catabolic genes are enriched and may be functionally associated with high molecular weight PAH biodegradation in Chattanooga Creek. Dioxygenase gene abundances were quantitatively compared to naphthalene and pyrene mineralization, and temporal and spatial PAH concentrations. nidA abundances ranged from 5.69 x 10(4) to 4.92 x 10(6) copies per gram sediment; nagAc from 2.42 x 10(3) to 1.21 x 10(7), and nahAc from below detection to 4.01 x 10(6) copies per gram sediment. There was a significantly greater abundance of nidA and nagAc at sites with the greatest concentrations of PAHs. In addition, nidA and nagAc were significantly positively correlated (r = 0.76), indicating a coexistence of organisms carrying these genes. A positive relationship was also observed between nidA and nagAc and pyrene mineralization indicating that these genes serve as biomarkers for pyrene degradation. A 16S rDNA clone library of fast-growing Mycobacteria indicated that the population is very diverse and likely plays an important role in attenuation of high molecular weight PAHs from Chattanooga Creek.
This article was published in Environ Sci Technol
and referenced in Journal of Nursing & Care