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Mitigation by fungi

Fungal communities degrade active environmental pollutant

Oeiras, 18.03.2015

Environmental and health concerns restrict the use of many compounds in agriculture but not all recommendations are followed worldwide. In a recent article in Environmental Microbiology, researchers from the Lab of Applied and Environmental Mycology and collaborators demonstrate the occurrence, in soils of cork oak forests in North Africa, of active contamination by pentachlorophenol, a recognized critical pollutant. Moreover, researchers show the importance of fungal communities in the degradation of this compound and revealed a novel degradation pathway.

Pentachlorophenol (PCP) was initially used in 1930s as a wood preservative but its application spread in many agricultural, industrial, and domestic scenarios. Due to its high toxicity, the use of PCP was severely restricted in 1980s and had virtually ceased in Europe by 2008. Still, PCP is increasingly used in other countries and is also a side product of the degradation of volatile herbicides and pesticides. The fact that PCP can travel long distances in the atmosphere results in an extensive contamination worldwide. Determining its sources and its fate in the environment is important to understand the impact of this pollutant in the environment.

Researchers were aware of circumstantial evidences of PCP contamination in cork oak forests in North Africa. Indeed, the soil analysis evidenced active inputs of PCP in these forests. Additionally, researchers characterized the fungal communities and the PCP-derived metabolites in these soils, which highlighted the key role played by fungi in the fate and mineralization of this pollutant.

Overall, results revealed the fungal community degradation pathway of PCP, something researchers believe provides novel tools for monitoring the degradation of PCP in other fungi dominated food-webs.

Original Article

Environmental Microbiology Accepted Article doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12837

Understanding fungal functional biodiversity during the mitigation of environmentally dispersed pentachlorophenol in cork oak forest soils

Adélia Varela1,2, Celso Martins1,3, Oscar Núñez4,5, Isabel Martins1,3, Jos A.M.P. Houbraken6, Tiago M. Martins1, M. Cristina Leitão1, Iain McLellan7, Walter Vetter8, M. Teresa Galceran4, Robert A. Samson1,6, Andrew Hursthouse7 and Cristina Silva Pereira1,3,7

3. iBET
4. University of Barcelona, Spain
5. Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain
6. CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Centre, The Netherlands
7. University of the West of Scotland, UK
8. University of Hohenheim,Germany



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