Amrita Biswas and *A. K. Paul
Multi-pond solar salterns spreaded over the coastal areas of Orissa and West Bengal, India, are commercially exploited for salt production. Soil samples of these salterns showed wide degree of variation in salinity (55.4 -172.5 ppt) along with high sulfate but low phosphate and nitrogen content and were differentiated as high, moderate and low salinity categories. Aerobic, heterotrophic bacterial population of these soils indicated predominance of Gram-negative motile rods, which developed white to cream colonies on Ventosa’s agar medium. A total of 203 moderately halophilic bacteria capable of growing well between 5-15% NaCl were isolated and systematic screening revealed that 53, 45 and 72% of isolates from high, moderate and low saline soil categories respectively accumulated poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) [P(3HB)] ranging from 10-51% of cell dry weight during growth and appeared to be interesting candidates for large scale production of this biodegradable bioplastic.
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