The fast growing and highly tolerant fish Nile tilapia is one of the most commonly raised fish in the aquaculture industry. To produce an all-male population, a common practice is to feed the Nile tilapia fry with 17α-methyltestosterone (MT)-impregnated food. Uneaten fish food with MT may accumulate in the masculinization ponds and be released into the receiving waters. Not much is known about the fate of MT in the fish farms and in the receiving streams. The objective of this study is to investigate the biodegradation of MT under aerobic condition and to isolate responsible microorganisms. Aerobic biodegradation tests were conducted with MT concentrations of 0.3, 1.0, 5.0, 7.0, and 10.0 mg/L using sediment from the masculinization pond as microbial seed. The results suggested that MT is biodegradable. Lag phase was not observed in all cases. With initial concentrations of 0.3, 1.0, 5.0, 7.0, and 10.0 mg/l, the first-order degradation rates were 0.52, 0.23, 0.17, 0.13 and 0.10 day−1, respectively. Degradation rates were found to decrease with an increase in the initial MT concentration. Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences of a strain isolated from the sediment indicated that the strain was highly similar to Pimelobacter simplex strain S151 (100%) which is in the genus Nocardioidaceae. Using this strain, MT is degraded with a first-order degradation rate of 0.044 h−1 excluding the lag phase. This is the first work reporting biodegradation of MT and isolation of MT-degrading bacterium from environment.

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