Biofilm development of the polyethylene-degrading bacterium Rhodococcus ruber

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2006 Sep;72(2):346-52. doi: 10.1007/s00253-005-0259-4. Epub 2006 Mar 14.


We have recently isolated a biofilm-producing strain (C208) of Rhodococcus ruber that degraded polyethylene at a rate of 0.86% per week (r2=0.98). Strain C208 adheres to polyethylene immediately upon exposure to the polyolefin. This initial biofilm differentiates (in a stepwise process that lasts about 20 h) into cell-aggregation-forming microcolonies. Further organization yields "mushroom-like" three-dimensional structures on the mature biofilm. The ratio between the population densities of the biofilm and the planktonic C208 cells after 10 days of incubation was about 60:1, indicating a high preference for the biofilm mode of growth. Analysis of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in the biofilm of C208 revealed that the polysaccharides level was up to 2.5 folds higher than that of the protein. The biofilm showed a high viability even after 60 days of incubation, apparently due to polyethylene biodegradation.

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Biomass
  • Kinetics
  • Microbial Viability
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Polyethylene / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Rhodococcus / growth & development
  • Rhodococcus / metabolism*
  • Rhodococcus / ultrastructure


  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Polyethylene