Effect of pH and Oxalate on Hydroquinone-Derived Hydroxyl Radical Formation during Brown Rot Wood Degradation

Elisa Varela, Ming Tien

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The redox cycle of 2,5-dimethoxybenzoquinone (2,5-DMBQ) is proposed as a source of reducing equivalent for the regeneration of Fe2+ and H 2O2 in brown rot fungal decay of wood. Oxalate has also been proposed to be the physiological iron reductant. We characterized the effect of pH and oxalate on the 2,5-DMBQ-driven Fenton chemistry and on Fe 3+ reduction and oxidation. Hydroxyl radical formation was assessed by lipid peroxidation. We found that hydroquinone (2,5-DMHQ) is very stable in the absence of iron at pH 2 to 4, the pH of degraded wood. 2,5-DMHQ readily reduces Fe3+ at a rate constant of 4.5 × 103 M -1s-1 at pH 4.0. Fe2+ is also very stable at a low pH. H2O2 generation results from the autoxidation of the semiquinone radical and was observed only when 2,5-DMHQ was incubated with Fe3+. Consistent with this conclusion, lipid peroxidation occurred only in incubation mixtures containing both 2,5-DMHQ and Fe3+. Catalase and hydroxyl radical scavengers were effective inhibitors of lipid peroxidation, whereas superoxide dismutase caused no inhibition. At a low concentration of oxalate (50 μM), ferric ion reduction and lipid peroxidation are enhanced. Thus, the enhancement of both ferric ion reduction and lipid peroxidation may be due to oxalate increasing the solubility of the ferric ion. Increasing the oxalate concentration such that the oxalate/ferric ion ratio favored formation of the 2:1 and 3:1 complexes resulted in inhibition of iron reduction and lipid peroxidation. Our results confirm that hydroxyl radical formation occurs via the 2,5-DMBQ redox cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6025-6031
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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