Abstract: The degradation characteristics of toluene coupled to nitrate reduction were investigated in enrichment culture and the microbial communities of toluene-degrading denitrifying consortia were characterized by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) technique. Anaerobic nitrate-reducing bacteria were enriched from oil-contaminated soil samples collected from terrestrial (rice field) and marine (tidal flat) ecosystems. Enriched consortia degraded toluene in the presence of nitrate as a terminal electron acceptor. The degradation rate of toluene was affected by the initial substrate concentration and co-existence of other hydrocarbons. The types of toluene-degrading denitrifying consortia depended on the type of ecosystem. The clone RS-7 obtained from the enriched consortium of the rice field was most closely related to a toluene-degrading and denitrifying bacterium, Azoarcus denitrificians (A. tolulyticus sp. nov.). The clone TS-11 detected in the tidal flat enriched consortium was affiliated to Thauera sp. strain S2 (T. aminoaromatica sp. nov.) that was able to degrade toluene under denitrifying conditions. This indicates that environmental factors greatly influence microbial communities obtained from terrestrial (rice field) and marine (tidal flat) ecosystems.
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Acknowledgements This work was supported by grant number R04-2001-000-00217-0 from the Korea Science & Engineering Foundation. Y.-J.A. was supported in part by the BK21 Project of the Korean Government during the manuscript preparation.