Kinetics of biodegradation of binary and ternary mixtures of PAHs. Academic Article uri icon


  • The kinetics of biodegradation of mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by Sphingomonas paucimobilis strain EPA505 were investigated. The investigation focused on three- and four-ring PAHs, specifically 2-methylphenanthrene, fluoranthene, and pyrene. Uptake rates in aerobic batch suspended cultivations were measured for the individual PAHs and their binary and ternary mixtures. It was observed that kinetics were influenced by the mixture composition and the kinetic properties of the components. A material balance equation containing the Monod model was numerically fitted to uptake data to determine extant kinetic parameters for the individual PAHs. Similarly, equations containing kinetic interaction models derived from enzyme kinetics were fitted to the uptake data obtained from experiments with binary and ternary mixtures. The investigation considered the following interaction types: no-interaction (Monod), pure competitive interaction, noncompetitive or mixed-type interaction, uncompetitive inhibition, and nonspecific interaction based on pure competition (SKIP). Model fit was evaluated based on probabilistic and statistical criteria and inferences were reached about underlying interaction mechanisms based on model fit. Mixture kinetics were most adequately simulated by the pure competitive interaction model with mutual substrate exclusivity. This model is fully predictive, relying only on parameters determined in the sole-PAH experiments. It was shown that for low percent inhibition values and with limited data, pure competitive interaction kinetics may not be evident, resembling no-interaction kinetics. This study is a reasonable starting point for understanding and modeling biodegradation of complex PAH mixtures in engineered and natural systems.

published proceedings

  • Biotechnol Bioeng

author list (cited authors)

  • Dimitriou-Christidis, P., & Autenrieth, R. L.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Dimitriou-Christidis, Petros||Autenrieth, Robin L

publication date

  • July 2007