Microbial load and biodegradation of palm oil mill effluent (POME) by microorganisms at different stages of discharge


  • Ejeagba Okorie Imo Federal University of Technology Owerri, IMO State, Nigeria.
  • Chinedu Emeka Ihejirika epartment of Environmental Technology, Federal University of Technology Owerri




The raw palm oil mill (POME) effluent has an extremely high content of degradable organic matters as a result of unrecovered palm oil during production of palm oil. The aim of this study is to evaluate the microbial load and biodegradation of POME by microorganisms at different stages of discharge. Standard dilution methods were used for the isolation of bacteria and fungi. The estimation of colony forming unit per mL (cfu/mL) was assessed using 10-fold serial dilution method. The results showed that the total microbial count (TMC) decreased with time. Statistical analysis using analysis of variance (ANOVA) further revealed a significant variation in microbial load after 28 days of discharge. This was followed by a significant decrease after 36 days when compared with other samples. The physicochemical studies further revealed the presence of relatively low levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron. The concentration of nitrate was relatively high, 70.13 mg/L. The biological oxygen demand (BOD) and the chemical oxygen demand (COD) were also high 2250mg/L and 3360mg/L respectively. High BOD and COD values are important indicators of high organic and inorganic components of the effluent and possible negative environmental consequences. The presence of the following species Clostridium, Proteus, Pseudomonas, and Micrococcus implied possible degradation of the effluent. 


Ahmad A, Ismail S, Bhatia S (2003). Water recycling from palm oil mill effluent (POME) using membrane technology. Desalination 157:87-95

APHA (2005) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater.21st Edition, American Public Health Association/American Water Works Association/Water Environmental Federation, Washington DC.

Bala J D. (2016). Aerobic treatment and biodegradation of palm oil mill effluent by indigenous microorganisms. PhD Dissertation. Environmental Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Cheesbough, M (2000). District Laboratory Practice in Tropical Countries part 2, Cambridge. Cambridge University Press 290-320.

Ellis, D (2006). Mycology online. The University of Adelaide, Australia.

FEPA (1991). Effluent limitation guideline in Nigeria for all categories of industries. Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.

Jeremiah, D. B., Japareng L., and Norli, I. (2014). Biodegradation of palm oil mill effluent (POME) by bacterial. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications. (4) 3, 1-10

Jeremiah, D. B., Japareng L., Adel, A. A., Kaizar, H. and Norli, I. (2018). Microbiota of Palm Oil Mill Wastewater in Malaysia. Tropical Life Sciences Research, 29(2), 131–163.

Kocur M, Kloos W.E and Schleifer K-H (1992). The genus Micrococcus. In: Balows A, Truper H.G, D working M, Harder W and Schleifer K-H (ed). The Prokaryotes; a Handbook on Habitat, Isolation and Identification of Bacteria, 2ndedition New York: Springer- Verlag.1300-1308.

Ogbulie, J.N., L.N. Dozie, N.S. Uwaezuoke, J.C. Igwe. (1998). Microbiological and chemical quality of Ogbuta Lake. Assessment of the environmental impact of domestic and industrial activities of the water quality.J. Innovations in life sciences 3: 87-95.

Mohammadreza, S., and Soheila, M. (2014). Enhancement of Biodegradation of Palm Oil Mill Effluents by Local Isolated Microorganisms. International Scholarly Research Notices Volume 2014, Article ID 727049

Okwute, L. O. and Isu, N. R. (2007). The environmental impact of palm oil mill effluent (pome) on some physico-chemical parameters and total aerobic bioload of soil at a dump site in Anyigba, Kogi State, Nigeria. African Journal of Agricultural Research 2 (12).

Ojonoma, L. O. and Isu, N. R. (2007). The impact of palm oil mill effluent (POME) on some physicochemical parameters and total bio-load of soil at a dump sitein Anyigba, Kogi State Nigeria. Africa Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 2 (12) 656-662.

Richard K. R. Cart. A. B, and Pradip D.P. (2000). Encyclopedia of food microbiology. Academics press Vol. 1:370 –371.

Suraini Abd-Azizi, Saleha S, Huzairi Z, Siti Mazlina M K, Yoshihito S, and Mohd Ali H (2010). Effect of Steam preparation on oil palm empty fruit Bunch (EFB) for the production of sugars. Journal of Biomass and Bioenergy. 36: 280-288.




How to Cite

Imo, E. O., & Ihejirika, C. E. . (2021). Microbial load and biodegradation of palm oil mill effluent (POME) by microorganisms at different stages of discharge. EQA - International Journal of Environmental Quality, 44, 9–17. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2281-4485/11667