A new yeast strain capable of degrading free and metallocyanides was isolated from coke-plant wastewater. The isolated strain designated MCN2 was identified as Cryptococcus humicolus by 26S rDNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. During growth of the isolate with KCN as a sole nitrogen source, formamide and formic acid were found as transient intermediates by [(13)C]nuclear magnetic resonance analysis and ammonia accumulated as a final product in the culture medium. The strain MCN2 could degrade high concentrations of tetracyanonickelate (II) (K(2)Ni(CN)(4), TCN) up to 65 mM CN within 60 h when a sufficient amount of glucose was supplied as a carbon source. The maximal degradation rate of TCN was 2.5 mM CN h(-1) at the initial concentration of 51 mM CN.