Coal is one of the major sources of energy, fuel, and other related chemicals. The processes to utilize coal for energy, fuel and other chemicals such as coal combustion, liquefaction, carbonization, and gasification pose a great threat to the environment by emitting toxic particles and CO2 to the atmosphere. Thus, biological beneficiation of coal can be a good strategy to utilize coal with environmental sustainability. Here, we report the screening of microorganisms able to degrade or depolymerize coal. These host strains are potential candidates for the development of biological treatment process of coal. A total of 45 microbial strains were isolated from sludge enriched with coal and were identified based on 16S rRNA sequencing. Four strains of three genera, Cupriavidus sp., Pseudomonas sp., and Alcaligenes sp., were further characterized for their abilities to degrade coal. The degree of coal degradation was analyzed by measuring the increase in absorbance at 450 nm by UV spectroscopy. These microorganisms were also able to increase the pH of the culture media as a response to the acidic nature of coal. Laccase-like activity was also found in these strains when tested for RBBR dye degradation. Since biological degradation of coal through the use of microorganisms is a good alternative to chemical combustion of coal, microbial strains isolated in this study can be potential biological catalysts for coal conversion into valuable chemicals.
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© 2017, The Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
- biological treatment
- coal degradation
- coal solubilization