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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Assessment of bacterial diversity during composting of agricultural byproducts

Piyush Chandna1, Lata Nain2, Surender Singh2 and Ramesh Chander Kuhad1*

Author affiliations

1 Lignocellulose Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, University of Delhi South Campus, Benito Juarez Road, New Delhi, 110 021, India

2 Division of Microbiology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, 110 012, India

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2013, 13:99  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-99

Published: 7 May 2013



Composting is microbial decomposition of biodegradable materials and it is governed by physicochemical, physiological and microbiological factors. The importance of microbial communities (bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi) during composting is well established. However, the microbial diversity during composting may vary with the variety of composting materials and nutrient supplements. Therefore, it is necessary to study the diversity of microorganisms during composting of different agricultural byproducts like wheat bran, rice bran, rice husk, along with grass clippings and bulking agents. Here it has been attempted to assess the diversity of culturable bacteria during composting of agricultural byproducts.


The culturable bacterial diversity was assessed during the process by isolating the most prominent bacteria. Bacterial population was found to be maximum during the mesophilic phase, but decreased during the thermophilic phase and declined further in the cooling and maturation phase of composting. The bacterial population ranged from 105 to 109 cfu g-1 compost. The predominant bacteria were characterized biochemically, followed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The isolated strains, both Gram-positive and Gram-negative groups belonged to the order Burkholderiales, Enterobacteriales, Actinobacteriales and Bacillales, which includes genera e.g. Staphylococcus, Serratia, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Terribacillus, Lysinibacillus Kocuria, Microbacterium, Acidovorax and Comamonas. Genera like Kocuria, Microbacterium, Acidovorax, Comamonas and some new species of Bacillus were also identified for the first time from the compost made from agricultural byproducts.


The use of appropriate nitrogen amendments and bulking agents in composting resulted in good quality compost. The culture based strategy enabled us to isolate some novel bacterial isolates like Kocuria, Microbacterium, Acidovorax and Comamonas first time from agro-byproducts compost. These bacteria can be used as potential compost inoculants for accelerating composting process.

Agricultural by-products; Compost; Bacterial diversity; Culturable; Phylogeny