The objective of this study was to investigate the ability of E. coli in river sediments to degrade estrogen conjugates. Biodegradation experiments on glucuronide estrogens (E1-GLU, E2-GLU and E3-GLU) using E. coli, non-E. coli bacteria as well as sediment crude extracts were carried out in batch mode. A pure identified E. coli strain (KCTC 2571) was used for comparison of enzyme activity. The results showed that the degradation rate of estrogen conjugates by KCTC 2571 and E. coli isolated from sediments followed a similar trend. Fecal bacteria showed a high ability to deconjugate glucuronided estrogens. Approximately 50% of glucuronide moieties were cleaved within 4 h of contact time in experiments using pure E. coli. The degradation rate was slower in experiments using crude extracts of sediments, and conjugated estrogens were not completely degraded even after 12 h of reaction. These results provide a clear understanding of the fate and behavior of estrogen by bacteria in the environment.

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