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Letters in Applied Microbiology
51, No.2, 2010; Pages: 205 - 211

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)-degrading potential bacteria from marine ecosystem of Gulf of Mannar, India

Balasubramanian V, Natarajan K, Hemambika B, Ramesh N, Sumathi CS, Kottaimuthu R, Rajesh Kannan V

Rhizosphere Biology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India.


Aims: Assessment of high-density polyethylene (HDPE)-degrading bacteria isolated from plastic waste dumpsites of Gulf of Mannar.

Methods and Results: Rationally, 15 bacteria (GMB1-GMB15) were isolated by enrichment technique. GMB5 and GMB7 were selected for further studies based on their efficiency to degrade the HDPE and identified as Arthrobacter sp. and Pseudomonas sp., respectively. Assessed weight loss of HDPE after 30 days of incubation was nearly 12% for Arthrobacter sp. and 15% for Pseudomonas sp. The bacterial adhesion to hydrocarbon (BATH) assay showed that the cell surface hydrophobicity of Pseudomonas sp. was higher than Arthrobacter sp. Both fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis and protein content of the biofilm were used to test the viability and protein density of the biomass. Acute peak elevation was observed between 2 and 5 days of inoculation for both bacteria. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrum showed that keto carbonyl bond index (KCBI), Ester carbonyl bond index (ECBI) and Vinyl bond index (VBI) were increased indicating changes in functional group(s) and/or side chain modification confirming the biodegradation.

Conclusion: The results pose us to suggest that both Pseudomonas sp. and Arthrobacter sp. were proven efficient to degrade HDPE, albeit the former was more efficacious, yet the ability of latter cannot be neglected.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Recent alarm on ecological threats to marine system is dumping plastic waste in the marine ecosystem and coastal arena by anthropogenic activity. In maintenance phase of the plastic-derived polyethylene waste, the microbial degradation plays a major role; the information accomplished in this work will be the initiating point for the degradation of polyethylene by indigenous bacterial population in the marine ecosystem and provides a novel eco-friendly solution in eco-management.

Keywords:biodegradation; biofilm; biomass; high-density polyethylene; marine ecosystem.


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