Summary: The S-labelled metabolites produced during biodegradation of sodium dodecyltriethoxy [S]sulphate (SDTES) by four bacterial isolates were identified and quantified. All four isolates used ether-cleavage as the predominant primary degradation pathway. In two of the organisms, the etherase system (responsible for approx. 60–70% of primary biodegradation) liberated mono-, di- and triethylene glycol monosulphates in substantial proportions, the last two esters undergoing some further oxidation to acetic acid 2-(ethoxy sulphate) and acetic acid 2-(diethoxy sulphate), respectively. For these isolates, liberation of SO directly from SDTES was also significant (30–40%) and the organisms were shown to contain alkylsulphatases active towards SDTES. For the remaining two isolates, etherase action was even more important (responsible for <80% of primary biodegradation) and was restricted almost totally to the alkyl–ether bond to generate mainly triethylene glycol sulphate, some of which was further oxidized. Very small amounts of diethylene glycol monosulphate were also produced, but its mono-homologue, and the oxidation products of both these esters, were absent. Small amounts of inorganic sulphate (approx. 10%) were liberated by these isolates and one of them also produced compounds tentatively identified as intermediates of βoM-oxidation.


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