John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Environmental biodegradability of [14C]SWNT by Trametes versicolor and natural microbial cultures found in New Bedford Harbor sediment and aerated wastewater treatment plant sludge

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Little is known about environmental biodegradability or biotransformations of single‐walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT). Because of their strong association with aquatic organic matter, detailed knowledge of the ultimate fate and persistence of SWNT requires investigation of possible biotransformations (i.e., biodegradation) in environmental media. In the present study, [14C]SWNT were utilized to track biodegradation over six months by pure liquid culture of the fungus Trametes versicolor and mixed bacterial isolates from field‐collected sediment or aerated wastewater treatment plant sludge. The mixed cultures were chosen as more environmentally‐relevant media where SWNT will likely be deposited. [14C] activity was assessed in solid, aqueous, and 14CO2 gaseous phases to determine amounts of intact SWNT, partially soluble SWNT degradation products, and mineralized SWNT, respectively, during the six months of the experiment. Mass balances based on radiocarbon activity were approximately 100% over six months, and no significant degradation of SWNT was observed. Approximately 99% of the [14C] activity remained in the solid phase, 0.8% in the aqueous phase, and less than 0.1% was mineralized to 14CO2, regardless of culture type. These results suggest that SWNT are not readily biodegraded by pure fungal cultures or environmental microbial communities, and are likely persistent in environmental media. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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