Bacteria with ability to degrade polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), isolated from wastewater and soil samples, were investigated for their taxonomic, physiological and genetic diversity. Eighteen isolates able to metabolize naphthalene or phenanthrene as sole carbon source were taxonomically affiliated to different subclasses of the spp., spp., spp. and spp.) and to phyla of Gram-positive bacteria with low and high DNA G+C content sp. and spp., respectively). Representatives of the genera and formed a remarkably high fraction of these isolates; 9 out of 18 strains belonged to these groups. Tests for enzyme activities showed that the majority of the isolates growing with PAHs as sole sources of carbon and energy had an active catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (C23O). C23O specific activities were very diverse, ranging from 0·1 to 650 mU (mg protein). and strains showed considerably higher activities than the other isolates. All PAH degraders were examined for the presence of an initial PAH dioxygenase and C23O, which catalyse key steps of PAH degradation, by PCR amplification of gene fragments and subsequent hybridization. PCR primers and internal oligonucleotide probes were developed for the specific detection of the genes of and strains.


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