• Open Access

Advances in the field of high-molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation by bacteria


  • Robert A. Kanaly,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Genome Systems, Faculty of Bionanoscience, Yokohama City University, 22-2 Seto, Kanazawa-ku, Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama 236-0027, Japan.
      *E-mail kanaly@yokohama-cu.ac.jp; Tel. (+81) 45 787 2220; Fax (+81) 45 787 2413.
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  • Shigeaki Harayama

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Chuo University, 1-13-27 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8551, Japan.
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*E-mail kanaly@yokohama-cu.ac.jp; Tel. (+81) 45 787 2220; Fax (+81) 45 787 2413.


Interest in understanding prokaryotic biotransformation of high-molecular-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (HMW PAHs) has continued to grow and the scientific literature shows that studies in this field are originating from research groups from many different locations throughout the world. In the last 10 years, research in regard to HMW PAH biodegradation by bacteria has been further advanced through the documentation of new isolates that represent diverse bacterial types that have been isolated from different environments and that possess different metabolic capabilities. This has occurred in addition to the continuation of in-depth comprehensive characterizations of previously isolated organisms, such as Mycobacterium vanbaalenii PYR-1. New metabolites derived from prokaryotic biodegradation of four- and five-ring PAHs have been characterized, our knowledge of the enzymes involved in these transformations has been advanced and HMW PAH biodegradation pathways have been further developed, expanded upon and refined. At the same time, investigation of prokaryotic consortia has furthered our understanding of the capabilities of microorganisms functioning as communities during HMW PAH biodegradation.