Cellulose degrading bacteria of tea garden soil were isolated, screened in vitro and its characterization, in relation to cellulase activity, was studied. Among the 25 isolates, the five strains showed higher enzyme activity when compared to other strains. Cellulase activity was expressed at a higher level by strain CDB 12 when blotting paper was used as a cellulose source in comparison with the other two substrate sources incorporated with minimal salt medium and followed by CDB 13 and CDB 21 in blotting paper. Maximum growth of cellulose degradation bacteria (CDB) was recorded at 30°C and pH 7.0. Among the carbon sources tested, maximum growth was observed in glucose amended mineral salts medium followed by fructose and maltose. Ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate were good nitrogen sources for better survival of CDB isolates. The biomass were continuously removed and placed as such into the tea field, then native and proven CDB strains were applied and they played an important role on the degradation of harvested biomass, which required replenishment to maintain the sustainable productivity of tea.
Key words: Cellulase, cellulose degrading bacteria, tea.
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