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Molecular microbial and chemical investigation of the bioremediation of two-phase olive mill waste using laboratory-scale bioreactors


Two-phase olive mill waste (TPOMW) is a semi-solid effluent that is rich in contaminating polyphenols and is produced in large amounts by the industry of olive oil production. Laboratory-scale bioreactors were used to investigate the biodegradation of TPOMW by its indigenous microbiota. The effect of nutrient addition (inorganic N and P) and aeration of the bioreactors was studied. Microbial changes were investigated by PCR-temperature time gradient electrophoresis (TTGE) and following the dynamics of polar lipid fatty acids (PLFA). The greatest decrease in the polyphenolic and organic matter contents of bioreactors was concomitant with an increase in the PLFA fungal/bacterial ratio. Amplicon sequences of nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) and16S rDNA allowed identification of fungal and bacterial types, respectively, by comparative DNA sequence analyses. Predominant fungi identified included members of the genera Penicillium, Candida, Geotrichum, Pichia, Cladosporium, and Aschochyta. A total of 14 bacterial genera were detected, with a dominance of organisms that have previously been associated with plant material. Overall, this work highlights that indigenous microbiota within the bioreactors through stimulation of the fungal fraction, is able to degrade the polyphenolic content without the inoculation of specific microorganisms.

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This study was possible thanks to the project REN 2000-1502 and the FPI fellowship program financed by the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Spain). We also wish to thank Katerina Spanova (Imperial College London) for her help with the PLFA analysis, and Dr Belén Rodelas and Raquel Ferrer (University of Granada) for their assistance in the PCR-TTGE analysis. We should also like to mention the contribution of Dr Angus Beck (Imperial College London), without whom this study could not have been possible.

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Correspondence to J. A. Morillo.

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Morillo, J.A., Aguilera, M., Antízar-Ladislao, B. et al. Molecular microbial and chemical investigation of the bioremediation of two-phase olive mill waste using laboratory-scale bioreactors. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 79, 309–317 (2008).

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  • Bioremediation
  • Microbial diversity
  • Olive mill waste