Metabolic interactions in a bacterial co-culture accelerate phenanthrene degradation

Shanshan Sun, Haizhen Wang, Kang Yan, Jun Lou, Jiahui Ding, Shane A. Snyder, Laosheng Wu, Jianming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A highly eff ;ective phenanthrene (PHE)-degrading co-culture containing Rhodococcus sp. WB9 and Mycobacterium sp. WY10 was constructed and completely degraded 100 mg L−1 PHE within 36 h, showing improved degradation rate compared to their monocultures. In the co-culture, strain WY10 played a predominant role in PHE degradation. 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoic acid was an end-product of PHE degradation by strain WB9 and accumulated in the culture medium to serve as a substrate for strain WY10 growth, thereby accelerating PHE degradation. In turn, strain WY10 degraded PHE and 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoic acid intracellularly to form phthalate and protocatechuate that were exported to the culture medium through efflux transporters. However, strain WY10 cannot take up extracellular phthalate due to the absence of phthalate transporters, restricting phthalate degradation and PHE mineralization. In the co-culture, phthalate and protocatechuate accumulated in the culture medium were taken up and degraded towards TCA cycle by strain WB9. Therefore, the metabolic cross-feeding of strains WB9 and WY10 accelerated PHE degradation and mineralization. These findings exhibiting the synergistic degradation of PHE in the bacterial co-culture will facilitate its bioremediation application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123825
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Feb 5 2021


  • Metabolic cross-feeding
  • Phenanthrene
  • Synergistic degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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