Comparison of initial hydrolysis of the three dimethyl phthalate esters (DMPEs) by a basidiomycetous yeast, Trichosporon DMI-5-1, from coastal sediment

Zhu Hua Luo*, Yi Rui Wu, Ka Lai Pang, Ji Dong Gu, Lilian L.P. Vrijmoed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Dimethyl phthalate esters (DMPEs) are a group of plasticizers commonly detected in the environment with potential adverse human health impact. The degradation of DMPEs by fungal systems has been studied to a limited extent, particularly by yeasts. In this study, a basidiomycetous yeast Trichosporon DMI-5-1 capable of degrading DMPEs was obtained and the degradation pathways were investigated. Results: A DMPE-degrading yeast was isolated from costal sediment by enrichment culture technique and was identified as Trichosporon sp. DMI-5-1 based on microscopic morphology and 18S rDNA sequence. Comparative investigations on biodegradation of three isomers of DMPEs, namely dimethyl phthalate (DMP), dimethyl isophthalate (DMI), and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT), were carried out with this yeast strain. Trichosporon sp. DMI-5-1 could not mineralize DMPEs completely but transform them to respective monomethyl phthalate or phthalic acid. Biochemical degradation pathways for the three DMPE isomers by Trichosporon sp. DMI-5-1 were apparently different. The yeast carried out one-step ester hydrolysis of DMP and DMI to respective monoesters (monomethyl phthalate and monomethyl isophthalate, respectively) and no further metabolism of these two monoesters. Meanwhile, DMT was transformed by the yeast to monomethyl terephthalate and subsequently to terephthalic acid by stepwise hydrolysis of the two ester bonds. Conclusions: This study shows that different catalytic processes are involved in the transformation of DMPEs by the basidiomycetous yeast Trichosporon sp. DMI-5-1 and suggests that its esterases, responsible for the initial hydrolyzing the two ester bonds of DMPEs, are highly substrate specific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1653-1660
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Basidiomycetous yeast
  • Biodegradation
  • Dimethyl phthalate esters
  • Plasticizers
  • Trichosporon sp.


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