The endocrine disrupting chemical nonylphenol (NP) is a technical product which consists of a complex mixture of nonylphenols with different alkyl side-chain isomers. Since the bio-degradation of each NP isomer may lead to its own range of metabolites, the isolation and identification of transformation products is very difficult. In order to overcome this difficulty, the nonylphenol isomer 4(3′,5′-dimethyl-3′-heptyl)-phenol (p353NP) was synthesized, and its degradation by an axenic culture of Sphingomonas TTNP3 was investigated with [ring-U-14C]-labelled and non-labelled p353NP including a time-course study. Radioactive mass balancing resulted in different polar soluble fractions, in insoluble radioactivity associated with biomass, and volatile radioactivity in the form of the mineralization product 14CO2. In the extracellular media, the presence of nonanol corresponding to the nonyl chain of the NP isomer was confirmed and its concentration was determined during the course of fermentation. No other radioactive compounds were detected beside the parent isomer. Radioactive metabolites were only found in the intracellular fraction of S. TTNP3.

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