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Phenol tolerance of bacteria- a case of spontaneous or adaptive mutation?

Lucky Nandi, Nilanjan Maitra, Sanjib Kumar Manna, Ashis Kumar Panigrahi

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Int. J. Biosci.15( 1), 110-119, July 2019

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12692/ijb/15.1.110-119


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Origin of mutation is a long lasting dilemma that often haunts researchers at their study. The same query comes up at our bacterial phenol degradation study. Phenol that is one of the most toxic, carcinogenic chemicals can be tolerated by some bacteria those can not only tolerate but also use phenol as substrate by enzymatic degradation. However, like other toxic materials, phenol also exhibits substrate inhibition at higher concentration. Primarily to find out the substrate inhibition, we isolated and identified six phenol degrading bacteria (GSI-1 to 6) (Streptococcus urinalis, Pseudomonas sp., Bacillus sp., Staphylococcus epidermidis, Rhodococcus sp. and Micrococcusluteus) from polluted waters of West Bengal, India, and studied their tolerance level at different phenol concentrations (200 mg l-1 to 1500 mg l-1); from the study 1200 mg l-1 phenol concentration was defined as inhibitory concentration. The growth rate study up to the inhibitory phenol concentration (1200 mg l-1) showed higher growth rate of the isolates at lower phenol concentrations (200 – 600 mg l-1) defining substrate inhibition. However, to our surprise in the further study of phenol degradation at that inhibitory concentration, all of these previously acclimatized bacteria were able to nearly completely degrade the 1200 mg l-1 phenol concentration- presumably due to mutation. But question arises as we obtained this same trend for phylogenitically distantly located bacterial strains- that the origin of this mutation is spontaneous or adaptive attributed by the phenol to the organisms to tolerate the inhibitory phenol concentrations.


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Phenol tolerance of bacteria- a case of spontaneous or adaptive mutation?

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