The degradation of the herbicide bromoxynil and its impact on bacterial diversity in a top soil

Joanne Baxter, Stephen Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Aims:  To study how repeated applications of an herbicide bromoxynil to a soil, mimicking the regime used in the field, affected the degradation of the compound and whether such affects were reflected by changes in the indigenous bacterial community present. Methods and Results:  Bromoxynil degradation was monitored in soil microcosms using HPLC. Its impact on the bacterial community was determined using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and quantitative PCR of five bacterial taxa (Pseudomonads, Actinobacteria, α-Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria and nitrifying bacteria). Three applications of 10 mg kg−1 of bromoxynil at 28-day intervals resulted in rapid degradation, the time for removal of 50% of the compound decreasing from 6·4 days on the first application to 4·9 days by the third. Bacterial population profiles showed significant similarity throughout the experiment. With the addition of 50 mg kg−1 bromoxynil to soil, the degradation was preceded by a lag phase and the time for 50% of the compound to be degraded increased from 7 days to 28 days by the third application. The bacterial population showed significant differences 7 days after the final application of bromoxynil that correlated with an inhibition of degradation during the same period. Conclusions:  These analyses highlighted that the addition of bromoxynil gave rise to significant shifts in the community diversity and its structure as measured by four abundant taxa, when compared with the control microcosm. These changes persisted even after bromoxynil had been degraded. Significance and Impact of the Study:  Here we show that bromoxynil can exert an inhibitory effect on the bacterial population that results in decreased rates of degradation and increased persistence of the compound. In addition, we demonstrate that molecular approaches can identify statistically significant changes in microbial communities that occur in conjunction with changes in the rate of degradation of the compound in the soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1605-1616
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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