Degradation of PCP by laccases of the white-rot fungus Trametes sp. HR577 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is a biocide used by the NZ forestry industry until 1988. Its use was discontinued due to its toxicity to humans and animals. White-rot fungi have been shown to degrade PCP in laboratory and field trials. New Zealand native white-rot fungi were screened to identify organisms suitable for the clean up of PCP contaminated sites. Four criteria were used for the screening: fungal growth at different temperatures, PCP and creosote resistance and PCP degradation in standard liquid medium. Twenty isolates were identified as potentially useful from over 200 that were screened. One unique isolate, Trametes sp. HR577, was chosen for intensive study because it produced the well known laccases previously described from other PCP-degrading white-rot fungi.
The white-rot isolate HR577 was assigned to the genus Trametes based on morphological characteristics and gene sequencing studies. The latter showed that the partial laccase gene sequences from Trametes sp. HR 577 had high sequence homology to laccases from other Trametes species, especially T. versicolor and T. villosa.
Two laccase isozymes, designated L1c and L2, were purified from Trametes sp. HR577. These isozymes had similar biological properties to other Trametes species laccase isozymes. Both isozymes had a relatively high temperature optima, however, they were not very stable at elevated temperature. The dependence of laccase on dissolved oxygen for catalysis was demonstrated for isozyme L2. Laccase activity was severely inhibited in the absence of dissolved oxygen. This could be restored by reoxygenation into the assay system.
Whole cultures of Trametes sp. HR577 grown in liquid culture removed up to 76% of PCP after 72 hours. PCP removal was mostly due to degradation rather than adsorption of PCP to fungal mycelium. Addition of purified and crude laccase isozymes (100 U mL-1) did not enhance PCP degradation.
6-15% of PCP was removed from solutions containing solely purified isozyme L1c or L2 in acetate buffer over 72 hours. Addition of ethanol or the laccase mediator compound 2,2' azinobis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS) resulted in increased PCP disappearance from purified laccase cultures.
These studies show that the white-rot Trametes sp. HR577 has potential to be used for the clean up of PCP contaminated sites in NZ.