• Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon;
  • Degradation;
  • Soil bacteria;
  • Dioxygenase;
  • Polymerase chain reaction;
  • Southern hybridization


Twenty different strains of Pseudomonas, Mycobacterium, Gordona, Sphingomonas, Rhodococcus and Xanthomonas which degrade polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were characterized in respect to genes encoding degradation enzymes for PAH. Genomic DNA from these strains was hybridized with a fragment of ndoB, coding for the large iron sulfur protein (ISPα) of the naphthalene dioxygenase from Pseudomonas putida PaW736 (NCIB 9816). A group of seven naphthalene-degrading Pseudomonas strains showed strong hybridization with the ndoB probe, and five Gordona, Mycobacterium, Rhodococcus and Pseudomonas strains able to degrade higher molecular weight PAH showed weaker hybridization signals. Using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach, seven naphthalene-degrading Pseudomonas strains showed a PCR fragment of the expected size with ndoB-specific primers and additionally ten strains of Gordona, Mycobacterium, Pseudomonas, Sphingomonas and Xanthomonas able to degrade higher molecular weight PAH were detected with degenerate primer-pools specific for the ISPα [2Fe–2S]-Rieske center of diverse aromatic hydrocarbon dioxygenases. This suggests a molecular relationship between genes coding for PAH catabolism in various PAH-degrading bacterial taxa, which could be used to evaluate the PAH-degradation potential of mixed populations.