Three actinomycetes ( sp. EC22, T7A and BD25) were assessed for their ability to degrade ball-milled wheat straw. All gave maximum levels of solubilized lignocellulose products (APPL) at the beginning of the stationary phase of growth (72-96 h). Low-molecular-mass aromatic compounds extracted from the APPL were analysed by reverse-phase and gas chromatography. Although the number of chromatographic peaks detected made identification of the products difficult, -coumaric acid (4-hydroxycinnamic acid), protocatechuic acid (3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid), gallic acid (3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid), gallic acid methyl ester (methyl-3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoate) and 4-methoxyphenol were recognized. The infrared spectra of the three strains were similar to the spectra of humic acids, with all APPL extracts showing carbonyl, amino, carboxyl, aliphatic and aromatic group vibrations. Also detected were peptide linkages of proteins. The results suggest a role for actinomycetes in the formation of humic substances in soils and composts.


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