Mineralisation of the herbicide linuron by Variovorax sp strain RA8 isolated from Japanese river sediment using an ecosystem model (microcosm)
Linuron is a globally used phenylurea herbicide, and a large number of studies have been made on the microbial degradation of the herbicide. However, to date, the few bacteria able individually to mineralise linuron have been isolated only from European agricultural soils. An attempt was made to isolate linuron-mineralising bacteria from Japanese river sediment using a uniquely designed river ecosystem model (microcosm) treated with (14)C-ring-labelled linuron (approximately 1 mg L(-1)). A linuron-mineralising bacterium that inhabits river sediment was successfully isolated. The isolate belongs to the genera Variovorax and was designated as strain RA8. Strain RA8 gradually used linuron in basal salt medium (5.2 mg L(-1)) with slight growth. In 15 days, approximately 25% of (14)C-linuron was mineralised to (14)CO(2), with 3,4-dichloroaniline as an intermediate. Conversely, in 100-fold diluted R2A broth, strain RA8 rapidly mineralised (14)C-linuron (5.5 mg L(-1)) and more than 70% of the applied radioactivity was released as (14)CO(2) within 3 days, and a trace amount of 3,4-dichloroaniline was detected. Additionally, the isolate also degraded monolinuron, metobromuron and chlorobromuron, but not diuron, monuron or isoproturon. Although strain RA8 can grow on linuron, some elements in the R2A broth seemed significantly to stimulate its growth and ability to degrade. The isolate strictly recognised the structural difference between N-methoxy-N-methyl and N,N-dimethyl substitution of various phenylurea herbicides.