Founder effect uncovers a new axis in polyethylene succinate bioremediation during biostimulation


Correspondence: Alok K. Sil, Department of Microbiology, University of Calcutta, 35 B. C. Road, Kolkata 700019, India. Tel.: + 91 98 3183 6050; fax: + 91 33 2476 4419; e-mail:


Biostimulation is a method of in situ bioremediation wherein native soil microbes are stimulated by nutrient supplementation. In a previous report, we showed considerable polyethylene succinate (PES) degradation by biostimulation. To gain an insight into this, this study was undertaken to investigate the different facets of the microbial population present in both soil and PES-films during biostimulation-mediated PES degradation. It was observed that addition of PES-films to both nutrient-treated and untreated soil resulted in significant reduction of soil microbial counts compared with the corresponding control. It was observed that a small microbial population containing both PES degraders and non-degraders translocated to PES surface. Over time, the population adhering to PES films changed from having both PES degraders and non-degraders to being mainly PES degraders. This newly developed microbial community on PES-films exhibited low diversity with a distinct cluster of metabolic fingerprinting and higher evenness compared with parent soil microbial population. Thus the establishment of a new community on the PES surface is an exhibition of founder effect, which subsequently resulted in the emergence of a more efficient PES-degrading population and subsequently led to considerable PES degradation.