Microbial hydrolysis of atrazine in contaminated groundwater

Mohammad Arar, Rani Bakkour, Martin Elsner, Anat Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Degradation of the widespread herbicide atrazine has been intensively studied in soils, while its degradation in groundwater has received less attention. This work studied atrazine degradation in contaminated groundwater adjacent to its production plant. The degradation potential was first explored in groundwater enrichment cultures. A broad potential for microbial atrazine degradation was observed when atrazine served as the sole nitrogen source, even when incubated with nitrate. Hydroxyatrazine was formed by the cultures, while desethylatrazine and desisopropylatrazine were not detected. Both the atzA and the trzN genes were identified by quantitative PCR analysis, with a clear dominance of atzA. Carbon isotope enrichments throughout the degradation process varied between the different cultures, with ε values ranging from −0.6 to −5.5‰. This implies corresponding uncertainties when using compound-specific isotope analysis to estimate degradation extents. In the field samples, in-situ degradation was reflected by a high percentage of metabolites, with hydroxyatrazine accounting for >95% of the metabolites in most wells. Both atzA and trzN were detected in the groundwater at quantities of ≈102 to 106 copies mL−1, with a dominance of atzA over trzN. These results provide evidence of the high potential for atrazine hydrolysis in the contaminated groundwater.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number138226
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


  • Atrazine
  • CSIA
  • Groundwater
  • Hydroxyatrazine
  • atzA
  • trzN

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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