Variation in the natural abundance stable carbon isotope composition of respired CO2 and biomass has been measured for two types of aerobic bacteria found in contaminated land sites. Pseudomonas putida strain NCIMB 10015 was cultured on phenol and benzoate and Rhodococcus sp. I-1 was cultured on phenol. Results indicate that aerobic isotope fractionations of differing magnitudes occur during aerobic biodegradation of these substrates with an isotopic depletion in the CO2 (Delta(13)C(phenol-CO2)) as much as 3.7 parts per thousand and 5.6 parts per thousand for Pseudomonas putida and Rhodococcus sp. I-1 respectively. This observation has significant implications for the use of a stable isotope mass balance approach in monitoring degradation processes that rely on indigenous bacterial populations. The effects of the metabolic pathway utilised in degradation and inter-species variation on the magnitude of isotope fractionation are discussed. Possible explanations for the observed isotope fractionation include differences in the metabolic pathways utilised by the organisms and differences in specific growth rates and physiology. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
- stable carbon isotope composition
- aerobic bacteria
- stable isotope mass balance
- indigenous bacterial populations