Biotransformation of cyanide to methane and ammonia by Klebsiella oxytoca

C. M. Kao, J. K. Liu, H. R. Lou, C. S. Lin, S. C. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Klebsiella oxytoca, isolated from cyanide-containing industrial wastewater, was shown to be able to biodegrade cyanide to non-toxic endproducts using cyanide as the sole nitrogen source. In this study, ammonia was one of the detected endproduct of cyanide biodegradation by the concentrated resting cells of K. oxytoca. Moreover, cyanide has been shown to be biotransformed to methane through the actions of concentrated resting cells. Biodegradation of cyanide by cell-free extracts was not observed, which might be due to the inactivation of nitrogenase (an oxygen-labial enzyme) caused by the oxygen exposure after cell disruption. Results show that the cyanide consumption by resting cells of K. oxytoca was induced when the pretreatment of these cells with cyanide was conducted. However, the cyanide-degrading capability of resting cells pretreated with ammonia was inhibited. The inhibition of cyanide degradation by resting cells of K. oxytoca was affected by the ammonia concentration. This might result from the suppression of nitrogenase activity of K. oxytoca by ammonia since nitrogenase was suggested to be the sole cyanide-degrading enzyme during the cyanide degradation process. Results from this study also show that the processes of cyanide biodegradation and ammonia production by resting cells occurred simultaneously. This suggests that the utilization of cyanide as nitrogen source by K. oxytoca might proceed using ammonia as an assimilatory substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1061
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Ammonia
  • Cyanide degradation
  • Klebsiella oxytoca
  • Methane
  • Nitrogenase


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