In order to investigate the potential for microbial degradation of estrogens, and the products formed, activated sludge collected from Korea (ASK) and night soil-composting microorganisms (NSCM) were used to degrade estrogens. Results showed that both ASK and NSCM degraded almost 100% of the natural estrogens estrone (E1), 17β-estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3) from initial concentrations of 20-25 mg/L, while synthetic estrogen, ethynylestradiol (EE2), was not degraded. Analysis of degradation products of E2 by using HPLC-ECD and a consecutive first-order reaction calculation confirmed that E2 was sequentially degraded to E1, which was further degraded to other unknown compounds by ASK and NSCM. We then used the yeast two-hybrid assay to show that the unknown degradation products did not appear to possess estrogenic activity when E1, E2 or E3 were degraded to below the detection limit after 14 days of incubation, indicating that ASK and NSCM not only degrade natural estrogens, but also remove their estrogenic activities.

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