Characteristics and Microbial Succession in Co-Composting of Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch and Partially Treated Palm Oil Mill Effluent

Azhari Samsu Baharuddin1, 2, Nakamura Kazunori4, Suraini Abd-Aziz*, 3, Meisam Tabatabaei3, Nor’ Aini Abdul Rahman3, Mohd Ali Hassan3, Minato Wakisaka1, Kenji Sakai4, Yoshihito Shirai1
1 Department of Biological Functions and Engineering, Graduate School of Life Science and System Engineering, Kyushu Institute of Technology, 2-4 Hibikino, Wakamatsu-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 808-0916, Japan
2 Department of Process and Food Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
3 Department of Bioprocess Technology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
4 Department of Plant Resources, Graduate School of Bioresources and Bioenvironmental Sciences, Kyushu University, 6-10-1, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka, 812-8581, Japan

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© 2009 Baharuddin et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Bioprocess Technology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia; Tel: +6-03-89467479; Fax: +6-03-89467510; E-mail:


Microbial communities and cellulolytic enzymes activities were analyzed during the co-composting of empty fruit bunch (EFB) and partially treated palm oil mill effluent (POME) in pilot scale. The physicochemical parameters were also measured during the composting. The diversity of the bacterial community was investigated using polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE). The results indicated that the composting process of EFB with partially treated POME was dominated by uncultured bacteria species. The dominant bacterial group changed from the phylum proteobacteria in the thermophilic stage to the phylum chloroflexi in the maturing stage. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis exhibited the significant degradation of EFB structure during the composting process. The maximum cellulase activity for carboxymethylcellulase (CMCase), filter paperase (FPase) and β-glucosidase were 13.6, 4.1 and 20.3 U/g of dry substrate, respectively at day 30 of composting. The results of this study significantly contributed to a better understanding of mechanisms involved in co-composting process in pilot scale.

Keywords: Composting, empty fruit bunch, partial treated palm oil mill effluent, cellulase, DGGE.