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Summary

The extradiol dioxygenase diversity of a site highly contaminated with aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons under air-sparging treatment was assessed by functional screening of a fosmid library in Escherichia coli with catechol as substrate. The 235 positive clones from inserts of DNA extracted from contaminated soil were equivalent to one extradiol dioxygenase-encoding gene per 3.6 Mb of DNA screened, indicating a strong selection for genes encoding this function. Three subfamilies were identified as being predominant, with 72, 55 and 43 fosmid inserts carrying genes, related to those encoding TbuE of Ralstonia pickettii PK01 (EXDO-D), IpbC of Pseudomonas sp. JR1 (EXDO-K2) or DbtC of Burkholderia sp. DBT1 (EXDO-Dbt), respectively, whereas genes encoding enzymes related to XylE of Pseudomonas putida mt-2 were not observed. Genes encoding oxygenases related to isopropylbenzene dioxygenases were usually colocalized with genes encoding EXDO-K2 dioxygenases. Functional analysis of representative proteins indicated a subcluster of EXDO-D proteins to show exceptional high affinity towards different catecholic substrates. Based on Vmax/Km specificity constants, a task-sharing between different extradiol dioxygenases in the community of the contaminated site can be supposed, attaining a complementary and community-balanced catalytic power against diverse catecholic derivatives, as necessary for effective degradation of mixtures of aromatics.