Heterocyclic organosulfur compounds such as dibenzothiophene (DBT) in petroleum cannot be completely removed by hydrodesulfurization using chemical catalysts. A moderately thermophilic bacterium Bacillus subtilis WU-S2B, which could desulfurize DBT at 50°C through the selective cleavage of carbon-sulfur (C-S) bonds, was newly isolated. At 50°C, growing cells of WU-S2B could degrade 0.54 mM DBT within 120 h to produce 2-hydroxybiphenyl, and the resting cells could also degrade 0.81 mM DBT within 12 h. The DBT-desulfurizing ability of WU-S2B is high over a wide temperature range from 30 to 50°C, and highest at 50°C for both the growing and resting cells, and this is an extremely advantageous property for the practical biodesulfurization. In addition, WU-S2B could also desulfurize DBT derivatives such as 2,8-dimethyIDBT, 4,6-dimethyIDBT and 3,4-benzoDBT. Therefore, B. subtilis WU-S2B is considered to have more beneficial properties than other desulfurizing bacteria such as Rhodococcus strains previously reported, particularly from the viewpoint of its capacity for thermophilic desulfurizatiou through the C-S bond cleavage.
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