2019 Volume 34 Issue 2 Pages 161-168
Oil palm empty fruit bunches (OPEFB) are the most abundant, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly lignocellulosic biomass in Malaysia. Investigations on the microbial diversity of decaying OPEFB may reveal microbes with complex enzymes that have the potential to enhance the conversion of lignocellulose into second-generation biofuels as well as the production of other value-added products. In the present study, fungal and bacterial diversities in decaying OPEFB were identified using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of the V3 region of the 16S rRNA gene and V4 region of the 18S rRNA gene. Fungal diversity in decaying OPEFB was dominated by the phylum Ascomycota (14.43%), while most of the bacterial sequences retrieved belonged to Proteobacteria (76.71%). Three bacterial strains isolated from decaying OPEFB, designated as S18, S20, and S36, appeared to grow with extracted OPEFB-lignin and Kraft lignin (KL) as the sole carbon source. 16S rRNA gene sequencing identified the 3 isolates as Paenibacillus sp.. The molecular weight distribution of KL before and after degradation showed significant depolymerization when treated with bacterial strains S18, S20, and S36. The presence of low-molecular-weight lignin-related compounds, such as vanillin and 2-methoxyphenol derivatives, which were detected by a GC-MS analysis, confirmed the KL-degrading activities of isolated Paenibacillus strains.