Use of reporter-gene based bacteria to quantify phenanthrene biodegradation and toxicity in soil

Doyun Shin, Hee Sun Moon, Chu Ching Lin, Tamar Barkay, Kyoungphile Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A phenanthrene-degrading bacterium, Sphingomonas paucimobilis EPA505 was used to construct two fluorescence-based reporter strains. Strain D harboring gfp gene was constructed to generate green fluorescence when the strain started to biodegrade phenanthrene. Strain S possessing gef gene was designed to die once phenanthrene biodegradation was initiated and thus to lose green fluorescence when visualized by a live/dead cell staining. Confocal laser scanning microscopic observation followed by image analysis demonstrates that the fluorescence intensity generated by strain D increased and the intensity by strain S decreased linearly at the phenanthrene concentration of up to 200 mg/L. Such quantitative increase and decrease of fluorescence intensity in strain D (i.e., from 1 to 11.90 ± 0.72) and strain S (from 1 to 0.40 ± 0.07) were also evident in the presence of Ottawa sand spiked with the phenanthrene up to 1000 mg/kg. The potential use of the reporter strains in quantitatively determining biodegradable or toxic phenanthrene was discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-514
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Bioavailability
  • Confocal laser scanning microscope
  • Phenanthrene
  • Reporter strain
  • Toxicity
  • gef gene
  • gfp gene

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