3 Biotech

, 8:171 | Cite as

Microbial functional diversity plays an important role in the degradation of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) in soil

  • Samrat Dey
  • Prosun Tribedi
Original Article


Towards bioremediation of recalcitrant materials like synthetic polymer, soil has been recognized as a traditional site for disposal and subsequent degradation as some microorganisms in soil can degrade the polymer in a non-toxic, cost-effective, and environment friendly way. Microbial functional diversity is a constituent of biodiversity that includes wide range of metabolic activities that can influence numerous aspects of ecosystem functioning like ecosystem stability, nutrient availability, ecosystem dynamics, etc. Thus, in the current study, we assumed that microbial functional diversity could play an important role in polymer degradation in soil. To verify this hypothesis, we isolated soil from five different sites of landfill and examined several microbiological parameters wherein we observed a significant variation in heterotrophic microbial count as well as microbial activities among the soil microcosms tested. Multivariate analysis (principle component analysis) based on the carbon sources utilization pattern revealed that soil microcosms showed different metabolic patterns suggesting the variable distribution of microorganisms among the soil microcosms tested. Since microbial functional diversity depends on both microbial richness and evenness, Shannon diversity index was determined to measure microbial richness and Gini coefficient was determined to measure microbial evenness. The tested soil microcosms exhibited variation in both microbial richness and evenness suggesting the considerable difference in microbial functional diversity among the tested microcosms. We then measured polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) degradation in soil microcosms after desired period of incubation of PHB in soil wherein we found that soil microcosms having higher functional diversity showed enhanced PHB degradation and soil microcosms having lower functional diversity showed reduced PHB degradation. We also noticed that all the tested soil microcosms showed similar pattern in both microbial functional diversity and PHB degradation suggesting a strong positive correlation (r = 0.95) between microbial functional diversity and PHB degradation. Thus, the results demonstrate that microbial functional diversity plays an important role in PHB degradation in soil by exhibiting versatile microbial metabolic potentials that lead to the enhanced degradation of PHB.


PHB Bioremediation Microbial functional diversity Positive correlation 



We thank Dr. Subhasis Sarkar for critical reading of the manuscript. This current work was not supported by any funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they do not have any conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsAssam Don Bosco UniversityGuwahatiIndia
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyAssam Don Bosco UniversityGuwahatiIndia
  3. 3.Department of BiotechnologyThe Neotia UniversitySarisaIndia

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