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Isolation and Characterization of Coumaphos-Metabolizing Bacteria from Cattle Dip

By Daniel R. Shelton and Cathleen J. Somich


Coumaphos, an organophosphate insecticide, is used for tick control in cattle dipping vats along the U.S.-Mexican border. Recently, several vats (problem vats) have experienced a loss of efficacy because of microbial degradation. Three morphologically distinct bacteria (designated B-1, B-2, and B-3) that metabolized coumaphos were isolated from enrichment cultures that were initiated from problem vat dip material. In general, amino acids, pyrimidines, and acetate supported growth; carbohydrates were not utilized. Only B-2 required growth factors. In resting cell experiments, coumaphos was hydrolyzed to diethylthiophosphoric acid and chlorferon by all three isolates. Chlorferon was subsequently metabolized by B-1 and B-2 to α-chloro-β-methyl-2,3,4-trihydroxy-trans-cinnamic acid. Only B-1 produced additional metabolites. Experiments with [benzo ring-labeled U-(14)C]coumaphos or chlorferon demonstrated that B-1 was capable of both mineralizing and incorporating into biomass the aromatic portion of the molecule. The majority of label, however, was recovered in the form of soluble products, including α-chloro-β-methyl-2,3,4-trihydroxy-trans-cinnamic acid. Although B-1 had the capacity to use chlorferon as a carbon source at low concentrations (100 μg/ml), visible growth at higher concentrations (1,000 μg/ml) was not observed. The addition of 400 μg of chlorferon per ml to B-1 cells in the mid-log phase of growth resulted in complete inhibition of growth, while the addition of 100 to 200 μg of chlorferon per ml resulted in partial inhibition. The growth of B-2 and B-3 was inhibited by 100 μg of chlorferon per ml. These data suggest that, although B-1 and, to a lesser extent, B-2 and B-3 are responsible for the primary degradation of coumaphos, other organisms in the enrichment culture may play a secondary role in coumaphos degradation by removing inhibitory products of coumaphos metabolism

Topics: Applied Environmental and Public Health Microbiology
Year: 1988
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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