Microbial degradation of pesticides contained in wastewaters from fruit-packaging plants: metabolic pathways, genetic mechanisms and potential applications

"Postharvest treatment of fruits involves drenching or spraying with fungicides like thiabendazole, imazalil, ortho-phenylphenol, fludioxonil and preservatives like diphenylamine (withdrawn). The wastewaters produced contain high pesticide loads and their direct disposal into soil disposal sites or in the municipal wastewater treatment plants are known to have detrimental effects on environmental quality. All these pesticides were given authorization for use at the EU level under the clause that "an efficient treatment of the produced wastewaters should be operative at a local scale". To date there is no sustainable and efficient means of treating these wastewaters and the development and implementation of such methods is urgently needed. Our group focuses on the microbial degradation of the chemicals contained in those effluents with a long-term goal to develop microbial inocula for use in biological treatment units. In this frame bacteria able to degrade the pesticides thiabendazole, ortho-phenylphenol, diphenylamine, iprodione have been isolated and the genetic mechanisms associated with the transformation of these pesticides are elucidated through multi-omic approaches including genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics. Novel enzymes i.e. a novel FAD-dependent monoxygenase involved in the transformation of ortho-phenylphenol, are isolated and characterized through heterologous expression. We are currently working:

(i) on a microbial consortium able to degrade the recalcitrant fungicide thiabendazole dissecting the role of the individual members, the genetic network and interactome of the consortium using SIP-NGS, shotgun metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics and metabolomics

(ii) to isolate key catabolic enzymes from the microbial metabolic pathways of compounds like iprodione using comparative genomics (i.e. iprodione-degrading bacteria) and thiabendazole using (meta)-omic approaches

(iii) to develop, working in collaboration with bioengineers, biobased systems inoculated with our microbial inocula for the treatment of wastewaters from the fruit packaging industry.


  1. Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, Exploring microbial networking in pesticides biodegradation: novel inocula and biocatalysts for biodepuration of agro-industrial effluents (EMIGRATE). Funding: European Commission H2020, Total Funding 160000 €. Duration: 2017– 2019, Benefited Fellow: Dr. S. Vasileiadis
  2. EXCELLENCE ΙΙ, The microbial detoxification of pesticides from the fruit-packaging industry: using omics in bioremediation (BIOREMEDIATOMICS). Funding: General Secretariat of Research and Technology, Greece. Duration: 1/2/2014-31/7/2015, website: http://bioremediatomics.bio.uth.gr/
  3. IKY-DAAD project: Do we isolate via in vitro enrichment cultures the right pesticide-degrading bacteria? Mechanisms involved and web-food C transfer. Funding: State Scholarship Foundation of Greece - DAAD, Collaborating Institute: UFZ-Leipzig (Dr A. Chatzinotas), Duration: 1/1/2014-31/12/2015
  4. RESEARCH-CREATE-INNOVATE call, Title: Development and implementation of novel biobased methods for the treatment of pesticide-contaminated wastewaters from agro-industries (MINOTAUR). Funding Body: European Union and Greek national funds -Operational Program Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Funding:  729,000 €, Duration 2018-2021
  5. State Scholarship Foundation of Greece, Call Siemens Postdoctoral Fellowships, Title: Evaluation of biobeds for the biological detoxification of pesticides contained in agro-industrial effluents. Funding body: State Scholarship Foundation of Greece, Funding 18000 €, Duration 1.1.2017-31.8.2017, Role: Coordinator (Benefited Fellow: Dr P. Karas)









  1. Campos M., Perruchon C., Vasileiadis S., Menkissoglu-Spiroudi U., Karpouzas D.G., Diez M.C., (2015) Isolation and characterization of bacteria from acidic pristine soil environment able to transform iprodione and 3,5-dichloroaniline. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation104: 201-211
  2. Perruchon C., Batianis C., Zouborlis, S., Papadopoulou E.S., Ntougias S., Vasileiadis S., Karpouzas D.G., (2015) Isolation of a diphenylamine-degrading bacterium and characterization of its degradation capacities, bioremediation and bioaugmentation potential. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 22: 19485-19496
  3. Perruchon C., Patsioura V., Vasileiadis S., Karpouzas D.G, (2016) Isolation and characterization of a Sphingomonas strain able to degrade the fungicide ortho-phenylphenol. Pest Management Science 72(1): 113-124
  4. Campos M., Karas P., Perruchon C., Papadopoulou E.S., Christou V., Menkissoglou-Spiroudi U., Diez M.C., Karpouzas D.G., (2017) Novel insights into the metabolic pathway of iprodione by soil bacteria. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 24:152-163
  5. Campos M., Perruchon C., Karas P.A.., Karavasilis D., Diez M.C., Karpouzas D.G., (2017) Biodegradation and rhizosphere-assisted bioaugmentation as strategies for optimization of the dissipation capacity of biobeds. Journal of Environmental Management 187(1): 103-110
  6. Perruchon C., Chatzinotas A., Omirou M., Vasileiadis S., Menkissoglu-Spiroudi U., Karpouzas D.G., (2017) Isolation of a bacterial consortium able to degrade the fungicide thiabendazole: the key role of a Sphingomonas phylotype. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 101:3881-3893
  7. Perruchon, C., Vasileiadis S., Rousidou C., Papadopoulou E.S., Tanou G., Samiotaki M., Garagounis C., Molassiotis A., Papadopoulou K.K., Karpouzas D.G., (2017) Metabolic pathway and cell adaptation mechanisms revealed through genomic, proteomic and transcription analysis of a Sphingomonas haloaromaticamans strain degrading ortho-phenylphenol. Scientific Reports 7: Article 6449, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06727-6
  8. Perruchon C., Pantoleon A., Veroutis D., Gallego-Blanco S., Martin-Laurent F., Liadaki K., Karpouzas D.G., (2017) Characterization of the biodegradation, bioremediation and detoxification capacity of a bacterial consortium able to degrade the fungicide thiabendazole. Biodegradation 28(5-6): 383-394
  9. Papadopoulou E.S., Genitsaris S., Omirou M., Perruchon C., Stamatopoulou A., Ioannides I., Karpouzas D.G., (2018) Bioaugmentation of thiabendazole-contaminated soils from a wastewater disposal site: Factors driving the efficacy of this strategy and the diversity of the indigenous soil bacterial community. Environmental Pollution 233: 16-25
  10. Papadopoulou E.S, Perruchon C., Vasileiadis S., Rousidou K., Tanou G., Samiotaki M., Molassiotis A., Karpouzas D.G., (2018) Metabolic and evolutionary insights in the transformation of diphenylamine by a Pseudomonas putida strain unravelled by genomic, proteomic and transcription analysis. Frontiers in Microbiology 9: 676, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00676


- Dr Sotirios Vasileiadis

- Dr Chiara Perruchon

- Dr Panagiotis Karas

- Eleni Lampronikou, PhD student