Identification of thermophilic bacteria in solid-waste composting

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The thermophilic microbiota of solid-waste composting, with major emphasis on Bacillus spp., was examined with Trypticase soy broth (BBL Microbiology System) with 2% agar as the initial plating medium. Five 4.5-liter laboratory units at 49 to 69°C were fed a mixture of dried table scraps and shredded newspaper. The composting plants treating refuse at Altoona, Pa., and refuse-sludge at Leicester, England, were also sampled. Of 652 randomly picked colonies, 87% were identified as Bacillus spp. Other isolates included two genera of unidentified nonsporeforming bacteria (one of gram-negative small rods and the other of gram-variable coccobacilli), the actinomycetes Streptomyces spp. and Thermoactinomyces sp., and the fungus Aspergillus circulans complex, B. stearothermophilus, B. coagulans types A and B, B. licheniformis, B. brevis, B. sphaericus, Bacillus spp. types i and ii, and B. subtilis. About 15% of the Bacillus isolates could be assigned to species only by allowing for greater variability in one or more characteristics than has been reported by other authors for their strains. In particular, growth at higher temperatures than previously reported was found for strains of several species. A small number of Bacillus isolates (less than 2%) could not be assigned to any recognized species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-913
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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