A new phenol-degrading marine fungal strain Fusarium oxysporum with high biodegradation activity and high tolerance of phenol was isolated from marine effluent of El-Max bay Alexandria, Egypt. Morphological, biochemical and 18S rRNA sequencing analysis identified the strain as F. oxysporum RA. This strain was capable of removing 12 and 8 mM of phenol and p-cresol in liquid minimal medium by 86 and 78% within 168 h, respectively. The fungus showed maximum activities of phenol hydroxylase (652 U/min/l at 8 mM of phenol) and aerobic p-cresol hydroxylase (377 U/min/l at 6 mM of p-cresol) at 72 h of incubation at 30°C. The Placket-Burman design was applied for medium optimization with respect to phenol degradation and phenol hydroxylase activity by F. oxysporum RA. The increase of KH2PO4 concentration and incubation temperature is significant (90%) for phenol degradation, while the increase of yeast concentration is significant (95%) for phenol hydroxylase activity production. These data demonstrated the prospect in protecting the environment from phenol and p-cresol pollution after the application of filamentous fungal strain of F. oxysporum RA.
Key words: Phenol and p-cresol biodegradation, marine Fusarium oxysporum RA, Placket Burman design, phenol and p-cresol hydroxylase assay
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