Anaerobic benzene oxidation by Geobacter species

Tian Zhang, Timothy S. Bain, Kelly P. Nevin, Melissa A. Barlett, Derek R. Lovley

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The abundance of Geobacter species in contaminated aquifers in which benzene is anaerobically degraded has led to the suggestion that some Geobacter species might be capable of anaerobic benzene degradation, but this has never been documented. A strain of Geobacter, designated strain Ben, was isolated from sediments from the Fe(III)-reducing zone of a petroleum-contaminated aquifer in which there was significant capacity for anaerobic benzene oxidation. Strain Ben grew in a medium with benzene as the sole electron donor and Fe(III) oxide as the sole electron acceptor. Furthermore, additional evaluation of Geobacter metallireducens demonstrated that it could also grow in benzene-Fe(III) medium. In both strain Ben and G. metallireducens the stoichiometry of benzene metabolism and Fe(III) reduction was consistent with the oxidation of benzene to carbon dioxide with Fe(III) serving as the sole electron acceptor. With benzene as the electron donor, and Fe(III) oxide (strain Ben) or Fe(III) citrate (G. metallireducens) as the electron acceptor, the cell yields of strain Ben and G. metallireducens were 3.2 × 109 and 8.4 × 109 cells/mmol of Fe(III) reduced, respectively. Strain Ben also oxidized benzene with anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS) as the sole electron acceptor with cell yields of 5.9 × 109 cells/mmol of AQDS reduced. Strain Ben serves as model organism for the study of anaerobic benzene metabolism in petroleum-contaminated aquifers, and G. metallireducens is the first anaerobic benzene-degrading organism that can be genetically manipulated. © 2012, American Society for Microbiology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)8304-8310
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquifers
  • Biodegradation
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Electrons
  • Groundwater pollution
  • Hydrogeology
  • Iron compounds
  • Ketones
  • Metabolism
  • Oxidation
  • Physiology
  • Stoichiometry
  • Benzene


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