Research Highlight

Dye-degrading, enzyme-producing marine bacteria

doi:10.1038/nindia.2018.108 Published online 21 August 2018

Marine biologists have isolated from the eastern Arabian Sea a hundred-odd bacterial strains that can secrete industrially important enzymes1. Some of them are capable of even degrading a toxic dye used in textile industry.

Separate studies had shown that marine bacteria could secrete enzymes that can be used in food and chemical industries. However, there are few reports on the diversity and application potential of marine organisms, particularly ones from the eastern part of Arabian Sea.

Researchers from Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kerala, India, collected sediment samples from the continental slope of eastern Arabian Sea. After diluting the samples, they prepared nutrient broth and checked it periodically for bacterial growth.

They identified 119 bacterial strains. Of these strains, 60% were able to produce gelatinase, 15% could secrete amylase and 40% caseinase. The bacterial strains were also able to produce lipases, ligninases and cellulases.

Three bacterial strains (Bacillus vietnamensis, Planococcus maritimus and Bacillus pumilus) showed tremendous potential to degrade Malachite Green, a harmful organic compound used in dyeing silk and wool. The bacteria could degrade 70% of the dye within 24 hours.

The bacteria colonise the continental slope at depths of between 250 and 1000 metres, where pressure soars to 40 to 100 times that of normal atmospheric pressure. With temperature below 150C, such an environment endows the bacteria with unique physiological traits.

The researchers say that they plan to explore the bacteria’s application potential further, beyond being a source of commercial enzymes. 






1. Farha, A. K. et al. Phylogenetic diversity and biotechnological potentials of marine bacteria from continental slope of eastern Arabian Sea. J. Genet. Eng. Biotechnol. (2018) doi: 10.1016/j.jgeb.2018.06.002