When exposed to the herbicide isoproturon, some soil fungi in pure culture metabolize the substance to hydroxylated metabolites. Hydroxylated metabolites of isoproturon have also been detected in soil studies. In an agricultural soil not previously exposed to isoproturon we found that the hydroxylated isoproturon metabolite N-(4-(2-hydroxy-1-methylethyl)phenyl)-N′,N′-dimethylurea mineralized faster than both isoproturon and its N-demethylated metabolite N-(4-isopropylphenyl)-N′-methylurea (MDIPU), thus indicating that mineralization of isoproturon is stimulated by fungal hydroxylation in this soil. In soils previously treated with isoproturon, in contrast, isoproturon and both its hydroxylated and demethylated metabolites mineralized at almost the same rate with up to 52% of the 14C-ring-carbon being degraded to 14CO 2 within 63 days. Thus hydroxylated metabolites of isoproturon do not seem to be more persistent than isoproturon, and hence may degrade before they can leach from topsoil and contaminate the aquatic environment. While an isoproturon-mineralizing bacterium Sphingomonas sp. SRS2 and a MDIPU-mineralizing mixed bacterial culture were able to deplete the medium of hydroxylated metabolites, little or no mineralization took place. This indicates that other bacteria must be present in the soil that are able to benefit from isoproturon being made available to mineralization by fungal hydroxylation.
- Phenylurea herbicide
- Phoma eupyrena
- Sphingomonas sp. SRS2
- Programme Area 2: Water Resources