This study investigated the biodegradation of high-molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in liquid media and soil by bacteria (Stenotrophomonas maltophilia VUN 10,010 and bacterial consortium VUN 10,009) and a fungus (Penicillium janthinellum VUO 10,201) that were isolated from separate creosote- and manufactured-gas plant-contaminated soils. The bacteria could use pyrene as their sole carbon and energy source in a basal salts medium (BSM) and mineralized significant amounts of benzo[a]pyrene cometabolically when pyrene was also present in BSM. P. janthinellum VUO 10,201 could not utilize any high-molecular-weight PAH as sole carbon and energy source but could partially degrade these if cultured in a nutrient broth. Although small amounts of chrysene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, and dibenz[a,h]anthracene were degraded by axenic cultures of these isolates in BSM containing a single PAH, such conditions did not support significant microbial growth or PAH mineralization. However, significant degradation of, and microbial growth on, pyrene, chrysene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, and dibenz[a,h]anthracene, each as a single PAH in BSM, occurred when P. janthinellum VUO 10,201 and either bacterial consortium VUN 10,009 or S. maltophilia VUN 10,010 were combined in the one culture, i.e., fungal-bacterial cocultures: 25% of the benzo[a]pyrene was mineralized to CO2 by these cocultures over 49 days, accompanied by transient accumulation and disappearance of intermediates detected by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Inoculation of fungal-bacterial cocultures into PAH-contaminated soil resulted in significantly improved degradation of high-molecular-weight PAHs, benzo[a]pyrene mineralization (53% of added [14C]benzo[a]pyrene was recovered as 14CO2 in 100 days), and reduction in the mutagenicity of organic soil extracts, compared with the indigenous microbes and soil amended with only axenic inocula
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