Biodegradation of the herbicide mecoprop-p with soil depth and its relationship with class III tfdA genes

Ma Sonia Rodriguez-Cruz, Jacob Baelum, Liz J. Shaw, Sebastian R. Sorensen, Shengjing Shi, Thomas J. Aspray, Carsten S. Jacobsen, Gary D. Bending

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    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Mecoprop-p [(R)-2-(4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy) propanoic acid) is widely used in agriculture and poses an environmental concern because of its susceptibility to leach from soil to water. We investigated the effect of soil depth on mecoprop-p biodegradation and its relationship with the number and diversity of tfdA related genes, which are the most widely known genes involved in degradation of the phenoxyalkanoic acid group of herbicides by bacteria. Mecoprop-p half-life (DT50) was approximately 12 days in soil sampled from <30 cm depth, and increased progressively with soil depth, reaching over 84 days at 70-80 cm. In sub-soil there was a lag period of between 23 and 34 days prior to a phase of rapid degradation. No lag phase occurred in top-soil samples prior to the onset of degradation. The maximum degradation rate was the same in top-soil and sub-soil samples. Although diverse tfdA alpha and tfdA genes were present prior to mecoprop-p degradation, real time PCR revealed that degradation was associated with proliferation of tfdA genes. The number of tfdA genes and the most probable number of mecoprop-p degrading organisms in soil prior to mecoprop-p addition were below the limit of quantification and detection respectively. Melting curves from the real time PCR analysis showed that prior to mecoprop-p degradation both class I and class III tfdA genes were present in top- and sub-soil samples. However at all soil depths only tfdA class III genes proliferated during degradation. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis confirmed that class III tfdA genes were associated with mecoprop-p degradation. Degradation was not associated with the induction of novel tfdA genes in top- or sub-soil samples, and there were no apparent differences in tfdA gene diversity with soil depth prior to or following degradation. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-39
    Number of pages8
    JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


    • Mecoprop-p
    • Soil depth
    • Biodegradation
    • tfdA
    • Quantitative PCR
    • Diversity
    • ALPHA
    • FIELD


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