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A bacterial strain designated in this study as
POXN01 was found to be capable of degrading the synthetic organophosphorus
pesticides paraoxon and methyl parathion. The strain was initially isolated
through enrichment technique from rice field soil near Harlingen, Texas.
Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA, gyrB and rpoD gene
alignments identified the POXN01 isolate as a new strain of Pseudomonas putida,
which is closely related to the
recently discovered nicotine-degrading strain Pseudomonas putida S16.
While being unable to metabolize nicotine, the POXN01 isolate was observed to
actively proliferate using monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, in particular
toluene, as nutrients. Search for the genetic determinants of paraoxon
catabolism revealed the presence of organophosphorus-degrading gene, opd,
identical to the one from Sphingobium fuliginis (former Flavobacterium sp. ATCC 27551). Assimilation of aromatic compounds likely
relies on phc ARKLMNOPQ gene cluster for phenol, benzene and toluene
catabolism, and on benRABCDKGEF cluster for benzoate catabolism. The
observed versatility of POXN01 strain in degradation of xenobiotics makes it
useful for the multi-purpose bioremediation of contaminated sites in both
agricultural and industrial environmental settings.