Cunninghamella elegans and a mutant strain (B8/36) of Beijerinckia both oxidized dibenzofuran to 2,3-dihydroxy-2,3-dihydrodibenzofuran. The bacterial metabolite was extremely unstable and, in the presence of acid, was rapidly converted into a mixture of 2- and 3-hydroxydibenzofuran. In contrast, the 2,3-dihydroxy-2,3-dihydrodibenzofuran formed by C. elegans was stable and only yielded 2- and 3-hydroxydibenzofuran when heated under acidic conditions. The results suggest that Beijerinckia B8/36 and C. elegans form the respective cis- and trans-isomers of 2,3-dihydroxy-2,3-dihydrodibenzofuran. C. elegans also oxidized dibenzofuran to 2- and 3-hydroxydibenzofuran under conditions that would not lead to the dehydration of the trans-dihydrodiol. These observations implicate the initial formation of dibenzofuran- 2,3-epoxide in the fungal oxidation of dibenzofuran. Beijerinckia B8/36 also produced a second unstable dihydrodiol that was tentatively identified as cis-1,2-dihydroxy-1,2-dihydrodibenzofuran. This compound gave 2-hydroxydibenzofuran as the major dehydration product and the cis relative stereochemistry was suggested by the isolation and characterization of an isopropylidine derivative. A preparation of cis-naphthalene dihydrodiol dehydrogenase and cell extracts of the parent strain of Beijerinckia oxidized both bacterial dihydrodiols to catechols. Cell extracts prepared from C. elegans catalysed an analogous oxidation of trans-2,3-dihydroxy-2,3-dihydrodibenzofuran to 2,3-dihydroxydibenzofuran. The latter product was also isolated and identified from culture filtrates. The results suggest that bacteria and fungi utilize different mechanisms to initiate the oxidation of dibenzofuran.

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