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Volume 68, Issue 2


Biodegradation of cyanide by Rhodococcus UKMP-5M

Maegala Nallapan Maniyam
  • Institute of Bio-It Selangor, Universiti Selangor, Jalan Zirkon A 7/A, Seksyen 7, 40 000, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
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/ Fridelina Sjahrir
  • Institute of Bio-It Selangor, Universiti Selangor, Jalan Zirkon A 7/A, Seksyen 7, 40 000, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
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/ Abdul Ibrahim
  • Institute of Bio-It Selangor, Universiti Selangor, Jalan Zirkon A 7/A, Seksyen 7, 40 000, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
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/ Anthony Cass
Published Online: 2013-02-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-013-0158-6


A new bacterial strain, Rhodococcus UKMP-5M isolated from petroleum-contaminated soils demonstrated promising potential to biodegrade cyanide to non-toxic end-products. Ammonia and formate were found as final products during growth of the isolate with KCN as the sole nitrogen source. Formamide was not detected as one of the end-products suggesting that the biodegradation of cyanide by Rhodococcus UKMP-5M may have proceeded via a hydrolytic pathway involving the bacterial enzyme cyanidase. No growth of the bacterium was observed when KCN was supplied as the sole source of carbon and nitrogen even though marginal reduction in the concentration of cyanide was recorded, indicating the toxic effect of cyanide even in cyanide-degrading microorganisms. The cyanide biodegradation ability of Rhodococcus UKMP-5M was greatly affected by the presence of organic nutrients in the medium. Medium containing glucose and yeast extract promoted the highest growth rate of the bacterium which simultaneously assisted complete biodegradation of 0.1 mM KCN within 24 hours of incubation. It was found that growth and cyanide biodegradation occurred optimally at 30°C and pH 6.3 with glucose as the preferred carbon source. Acetonitrile was used as an inducer to enhance cyanide biodegradation since the enzymes nitrile hydratase and/or nitrilase have similarity at both the amino acid and structural levels to that of cyanidase. The findings from this study should be of great interest from an environmental and health point of views since the optimum conditions discovered in the present study bear a close resemblance to the actual scenario of cyanide wastewater treatment facilities.

Keywords: cyanide biodegradation; Rhodococcus UKMP-5M; cyanidase; ammonia; formate

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About the article

Published Online: 2013-02-23

Published in Print: 2013-04-01

Citation Information: Biologia, Volume 68, Issue 2, Pages 177–185, ISSN (Online) 1336-9563, ISSN (Print) 0006-3088, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-013-0158-6.

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© 2013 Slovak Academy of Sciences. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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