Biosurfactants from Acinetobacter calcoaceticus BU03 enhance the solubility and biodegradation of phenanthrene

Zhenyong Zhao, Jonathan W C WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


A thermophilic bacterial strain, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus BU03, with a biosurfactant-producing capability, was isolated from petroleum-contaminated soil with an improved procedure which employed the solubilization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarnons (PAHs), i.e. naphthalene in agar plate, as a selection criterion. Crude biosurfactant was recovered from the culture of BU03 by extraction with n-hexane, and its properties were investigated. Biosurfactants from A. calcoaceticus BU03 constitute a thermo-stable mixture, composed of different agents with surface activities. At their critical micelle concentration (CMC) of 152.4 mg L-1, the crude biosurfactants produced from A. calcoaceticus BU03 decreased the air-water surface tension to 38.4 mN m-1. In thermophilic conditions, the emulsifying activity is 2.8 times that of Tween 80. The effects of the biosurfactants produced by A. calcoaceticus on the solubility and biodegradation of PAHs were investigated in batch systems. Biosurfactants produced by A. calcoaceticus BU03 at 25 times their CMC significantly increased the apparent aqueous solubility of phenanthrene (PHE), pyrene (PYR) and benzo(a)pyrene (B[a]P) to 54.3, 6.33 and 2.08mg L-1, respectively. In aqueous system, the biosurfactants at concentrations of 0.5 CMC and 1 CMC slightly enhanced the biodegradation of PHE by a consortium of PAH-degrading microrganisms. Results indicate that biosurfactants from A. calcoaceticus BU03 have potential to enhance the removal of PAHs from contaminated sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-299
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal

User-Defined Keywords

  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Degradation
  • Isolation
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Pyrene
  • Solubility


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