The fate of pesticides in the subsurface is of great interest to the public, industry, and regulatory authorities. Compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) is a promising tool complementary to existing methods for elucidating pesticide degradation reactions. Here, we address three different initial biotransformation reactions of the phenylurea herbicide isoproturon (3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea) in pure culture experiments with bacterial and fungal strains. When analyzing isotopic changes in different parts of the isoproturon molecule, hydroxylation of the isopropyl group by fungi was found to be associated with C and H isotope fractionation. In contrast, hydrolysis by Arthrobacter globiformis D47 caused strong C and N isotope fractionation, albeit in a different manner than abiotic hydrolysis so that isotope measurements can distinguish between both modes of transformation. No significant isotope fractionation was observed during N-demethylation by Sphingomonas sp. SRS2. The observed isotope fractionation patterns were in agreement with the type of reactions and elements involved. Moreover, their substantially different nature suggests that isotope changes in natural samples may be uniquely attributed to either pathway, allowing even to distinguish the abiotic versus biotic nature of hydrolysis. Our investigations show how characteristic isotope patterns may significantly add to the present understanding of the environmental fate of pesticides.
- Programområde 2: Vandressourcer