The occurrence of the extensively used herbicide diuron in the environment poses a severe threat to the ecosystem and human health. Four different ligninolytic fungi were studied as biodegradation candidates for the removal of diuron. Among them, T. versicolor was the most effective species, degrading rapidly not only diuron (83%) but also the major metabolite 3,4-dichloroaniline (100%), after 7-day incubation. During diuron degradation, five transformation products (TPs) were found to be formed and the structures for three of them are tentatively proposed. According to the identified TPs, a hydroxylated intermediate 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1-hydroxymethyl-1-methylurea (DCPHMU) was further metabolized into the N-dealkylated compounds 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1-methylurea (DCPMU) and 3,4-dichlorophenylurea (DCPU). The discovery of DCPHMU suggests a relevant role of hydroxylation for subsequent N-demethylation, helping to better understand the main reaction mechanisms of diuron detoxification. Experiments also evidenced that degradation reactions may occur intracellularly and be catalyzed by the cytochrome P450 system. A response surface method, established by central composite design, assisted in evaluating the effect of operational variables in a trickle-bed bioreactor immobilized with T. versicolor on diuron removal. The best performance was obtained at low recycling ratios and influent flow rates. Furthermore, results indicate that the contact time between the contaminant and immobilized fungi plays a crucial role in diuron removal. This study represents a pioneering step forward amid techniques for bioremediation of pesticides-contaminated waters using fungal reactors at a real scale.
- Herbicide removal
- High-resolution mass spectrometry
- Response surface methodology
- Transformation products
- White-rot fungi
- Biodegradation, Environmental
- PHENYLUREA HERBICIDES