Biocatalytic Detoxification of Polynuclear Hydrocarbons

Period of Performance: 08/15/1989 - 05/14/1990


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Alderon Biosciences, Inc.
Beaufort, NC 28516
Principal Investigator


The objective of this research is to show that a carrageenan-immobilize white-rot fungus, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, will oxidize aromatic hydrocarbons in a stabilized organic solvent aqueous emulsion. Oxidation of anthracene to anthraquinone in the proposed emulsion will demonstrate that the model polynuclear hydrocarbon can be readily transformed from a carcinogenic material to a relatively harmless product. The product, anthraquinone is also commercially valuable as a dyestuff intermediate. Feasibility of anthracene oxidation will be shown by (1) metabolism and survival of the fungus in the organic emulsion, (2) efficient oxidation of anthracene to anthraquinone due to increased solubility of substrate/product relative to water, and (3) general application to similar substrate molecules. Successful completion of the research will significantly enhance the range of substrates that can be effectively metabolized by a living organism. Applications include not only detoxification of organic compounds, but also production of feedstock organic compounds.