Industrially produced carbon-based nanomaterials (CNM), including fullerenes and nanotubes, will be introduced into the environment in increasing amounts in the next decades. One likely environmental chemical transformation of C 60 is oxidation to C 60 fullerol through both abiotic- and biotic-mediated means. Unfortunately, knowledge of the environmental fate of oxidized CNM is lacking. This study used bulk and compound-specific 13C stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry techniques and spectroradiometry analysis to examine the ability of two white rot basidiomycete fungi (Phlebia tremellosa and Trametes versicolor) to metabolize and degrade an oxygenated CNM, C 60 fullerol. After 32 weeks of decay, both fungi were able to bleach and oxidize fullerol to CO 2. Additionally, the fungi incorporated minor amounts of the fullerol carbon into lipid biomass. These findings are significant in that they represent the first report of direct biodegradation and utilization of any fullerene derivative and provide valuable information about the possible environmental fates of other CNM.
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