Keywords: phenols, microbial metabolism, aerobic biodegradation, anaerobic biodegradation, kinetics, pollution control, environmental pollution, phenol biodegradation, Haldane model, microbial cells
Microbial degradation of phenols: a review
The microbial degradation of phenols has been reviewed including the phenol-degrading microbes, factors affecting degradability, and the use of biotechnology with emphasis on degradation mechanisms and their kinetics. The mechanism of microbial degradation depends on aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Under aerobic conditions, degradation of phenol was shown to be initiated by oxygenation into catechols as intermediates followed by a ring cleavage at either the ortho or meta position, depending on the type of strain. Anaerobic biodegradation of phenol occurs by carboxylation followed by dehydroxylation (reducing reaction) and dearomatisation. It was also clear that the parameters used in the Haldane model are not constants but vary, hence it may never be possible to describe the kinetic properties of a microbial cell with a single set of constants.