Description of heterotrophic bacteria occurring in paper mills and paper products

Maija-Liisa Suihko (Corresponding Author), H. Sinkko, Laila Partanen, Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Mirja Salkinoja-Salonen, Laura Raaska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To isolate aerobic mesophilic bacilli and thermophilic bacteria from different paper mill samples and to evaluate their potential harmfulness.

Methods and Results: A total of 109 mesophilic and 68 thermophilic isolates were purified and characterized by automated ribotyping and partial 16S rDNA sequencing. The mesophilic isolates belonged to the genera Bacillus (13 taxa), Brevibacillus (three taxa) and Paenibacillus (five taxa). The thermophilic bacteria represented seven taxa of Bacillus, Geobacillus or Paenibacillus, four of proteobacteria and one of actinobacteria. The most frequently occurring bacteria were Bacillus cereus, B. licheniformis, Pseudoxanthomonas taiwanensis and bacteria closely related to Paenibacillus stellifer, P. turicensis or Leptothrix sp. One mill was contaminated throughout with bacteria of a novel mesophilic genus most closely related to Brevibacillus centrosporus and another with bacteria of a novel thermophilic genus most closely related to Hydrogenophilus thermoluteolus. One B. cereus isolate producing haemolytic diarrhoeal enterotoxin was detected and all the tested B. licheniformis isolates produced a metabolite toxic to boar sperm cells.

Conclusions: The bacilli and thermophilic bacteria isolated represent species which should not present occupational hazards in paper mill environments. The most harmful bacterium detected was B. licheniformis and potentially also B. cereus.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Knowledge of the microbial diversity in a paper mill provides a rational basis for development of an effective controlling programme. A database constructed from the fingerprints generated using automated ribotyping helps to identify and trace the contamination routes of bacteria occurring in paper mills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1228-1235
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • automated ribotyping
  • bacilli
  • pulp and paper industry
  • thermophiles
  • toxins


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