Aims: To develop a method to produce beads with encapsulated Rhodococcus erythropolis NI86/21 with high cell density, extended shelf life, ease of handling and good atrazine degradation capabilities in both liquid and in agricultural soil. Methods and Results: Our findings show that the supplementary recovery step in nutrient broth media shortly after cell encapsulation facilitates cell survival in both wet and dry beads upon extended storage at 4°C. Air drying has little or no impact on encapsulated R. erythropolis cell's ability to degrade atrazine in liquid or soil. Bead storage for periods extending up to 12 months at 4°C did not affect the capacity of R. erythropolis encapsulated cells to degrade atrazine in either BMN or nonsterile soil extracts. Bentonite-amended beads formulated with 1% skim milk and exposed to the supplementary growth step, outperformed all other bead formats. These beads provided adequate numbers of vigorous R. erythropolis cells in either liquid or soil media to degrade atrazine. Conclusions: Supplementary growth in nutrient broth media immediately following cell encapsulation greatly enhances R. erythropolis cells survival in both wet and dry beads upon extended storage at 4°C. Wet and dried beads have similar capacity for atrazine degradation, and their usefulness and appeal in agronomic practise will only be known after bioassay evaluation and successful demonstration at field scale using incurred residues. Significance and Impact of the Study: R. erythropolis NI86/21 encapsulated cells have the potential to reduce residual atrazine in soil, thereby minimizing the likelihood of off-site transport to ground or river water and reduce the loss of crops because of phytotoxicity of residual herbicide. Owing to their ease of handling, storage and possible compatibilities with pre-existing mechanical equipment, dried bead formats are ideally suited for agricultural and remediational applications.
Vancov, T, Jury, K, Rice, NF, Van Zwieten, L & Morris, S 2007, 'Enhancing cell survival of atrazine degrading Rhodococcus erythropolis NI86/21 cells encapsulated in alginate beads', Journal of Applied Microbiology, vol. 102, no. 1, pp. 212–220.
The publisher's version of this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2006.03047.x