Pure bacterial cultures were isolated from a highly enriched denitrifying consortium previously shown to anaerobically biodegrade naphthalene. The isolates were screened for the ability to grow anaerobically in liquid culture with naphthalene as the sole source of carbon and energy in the presence of nitrate. Three naphthalene-degrading pure cultures were obtained, designated NAP-3-1, NAP-3-2, and NAP-4. Isolate NAP-3-1 tested positive for denitrification using a standard denitrification assay. Neither isolate NAP-3-2 nor isolate NAP-4 produced gas in the assay, but both consumed nitrate and NAP-4 produced significant amounts of nitrite. Isolates NAP-4 and NAP-3-1 transformed 70 to 90% of added naphthalene, and the transformation was nitrate dependent. No significant removal of naphthalene occurred under nitrate-limited conditions or in cell-free controls. Both cultures exhibited partial mineralization of naphthalene, representing 7 to 20% of the initial added 14C-labeled naphthalene. After 57 days of incubation, the largest fraction of the radiolabel in both cultures was recovered in the cell mass (30 to 50%), with minor amounts recovered as unknown soluble metabolites. Nitrate consumption, along with the results from the 14C radiolabel study, are consistent with the oxidation of naphthalene coupled to denitrification for NAP-3-1 and nitrate reduction to nitrite for NAP-4. Phylogenetic analyses based on 16S ribosomal DNA sequences of NAP-3-1 showed that it was closely related to Pseudomonas stutzeri and that NAP-4 was closely related to Vibrio pelagius. This is the first report we know of that demonstrates nitrate-dependent anaerobic degradation and mineralization of naphthalene by pure cultures
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