Selection and screening of microbial consortia for efficient and ecofriendly degradation of plastic garbage collected from urban and rural areas of Bangalore, India

Environ Monit Assess. 2015 Jan;187(1):4174. doi: 10.1007/s10661-014-4174-y. Epub 2014 Dec 13.


Industrialization and urbanization have led to massive accumulation of plastic garbage all over India. The persistence of plastic in soil and aquatic environment has become ecological threat to the metropolitan city such as Bangalore, India. Present study investigates an ecofriendly, efficient and cost-effective approach for plastic waste management by the screening of novel microbial consortia which are capable of degrading plastic polymers. Plastic-contaminated soil and water samples were collected from six hot spots of urban and rural areas of Bangalore. The plastic-degrading bacteria were enriched, and degradation ability was determined by zone of clearance method. The percentage of polymer degradation was initially monitored by weight loss method, and the main isolates were characterized by standard microbiology protocols. These isolates were used to form microbial consortia, and the degradation efficiency of the consortia was compared with individual isolate and known strains obtained from the Microbial Type Culture Collection (MTCC) and Gene Bank, India. One of the main enzymes responsible for polymer degradation was identified, and the biodegradation mechanism was hypothesized by bioinformatics studies. From this study, it is evident that the bacteria utilized the plastic polymer as a sole source of carbon and showed 20-50% weight reduction over a period of 120 days. The two main bacteria responsible for the degradation were microbiologically characterized to be Pseudomonas spp. These bacteria could grow optimally at 37 °C in pH 9.0 and showed 35-40% of plastic weight reduction over 120 days. These isolates were showed better degradation ability than known strains from MTCC. The current study further revealed that the microbial consortia formulated by combining Psuedomonas spp. showed 40 plastic weight reduction over a period of 90 days. Further, extracellular lipase, one of the main enzymes responsible for polymer degradation, was identified. The computational docking studies suggested that polyethylene glycol and polystyrene present in the plastics might have good interaction towards the microbial lipase with stable binding and interacting forces which probably could be one of the reasons for the degradative mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • India
  • Microbial Consortia*
  • Plastics / metabolism*
  • Refuse Disposal / methods*
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Microbiology*


  • Plastics
  • Soil