• syntrophic degradation;
  • soil bacteria;
  • butachlor;
  • 2-chloro-N-(2,6-diethylphenyl) acetamide


Two bacterial strains involved in syntrophic degradation of chloroacetamide herbicide butachlor were isolated from a rice paddy soil. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences indicated that the two isolates were related to members of the genera Mycobacterium and Sphingobium, respectively. Thus, a pair consisted of Mycobacterium sp. J7A and Sphingobium sp. J7B could rapidly degrade butachlor (100 mg L−1) at 28 °C within 24 h, while each isolate alone was not able to completely degrade butachlor. The isolate Mycobacterium sp. J7A was observed to grow slightly on butachlor, possibly utilizing the alkyl side chain of butachlor as its carbon and energy source, but the isolate Sphingobium sp. J7B alone could not grow on butachlor at all. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry on catabolic intermediates revealed that the strain J7A produced and accumulated 2-chloro-N-(2,6-diethylphenyl) acetamide (CDEPA) during growth on butachlor. This intermediate was not further degraded by strain J7A, but strain J7B was observed to be able to completely degrade and grow on it through 2,6-diethylaniline (DEA). The results showed that butachlor was completely degraded by the two isolates by syntrophic metabolism, in which strain Mycobacterium sp. J7A degraded butachlor to CDEPA, which was subsequently degraded by strain Sphingobium sp. J7B through DEA.