3-Chlorobenzoate (3Cba)-degrading bacteria were isolated from the waters and sediments of flowthrough mesocosms dosed with various concentrations of 3Cba and inoculated with a 3Cba-degrading Alcaligenes sp., strain BR60. Bacteria capable of 3Cba degradation which were distinct from BR60 were isolated. They carried pBRC60, a plasmid introduced with Alcaligenes sp. strain BR60 that carries a transposable element (Tn5271) encoding 3Cba degradation. The isolates expressed these genes in different ways. The majority of pBRC60 recipients were motile, yellow-pigmented, gram-negative rods related to the group III pseudomonads and to BR60 by substrate utilization pattern. They were capable of complete 3Cba degradation at both millimolar and micromolar concentrations. Two isolates, Pseudomonas fluorescens PR24B(pBRC60) and Pseudomonas sp. strain PR120(pBRC60), are more distantly related to BR60 and both produced chlorocatechol when exposed to 3Cba at millimolar concentrations in the presence of yeast extract. These species showed poor growth in liquid 3Cba minimal medium but could degrade 3Cba in continuous cultures dosed with micromolar levels of the chemical. Laboratory matings confirm that pBRC60 can transfer from BR60 to species in both the beta and gamma subgroups of the proteobacteria and that 3Cba gene expression is variable between species. Selection pressures acting on pBRC60 recipients are discussed
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