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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 784591, 16 pages
Review Article

The Microbiology of Olive Mill Wastes

1Department of Environmental Engineering, Democritus University of Thrace, Vas. Sofias 12, 67100 Xanthi, Greece
2Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Management, University of Patras, 2 Seferi Street, 30100 Agrinio, Greece

Received 30 March 2013; Revised 18 July 2013; Accepted 22 July 2013

Academic Editor: Ameur Cherif

Copyright © 2013 Spyridon Ntougias et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Olive mill wastes (OMWs) are high-strength organic effluents, which upon disposal can degrade soil and water quality, negatively affecting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The main purpose of this review paper is to provide an up-to-date knowledge concerning the microbial communities identified over the past 20 years in olive mill wastes using both culture-dependent and independent approaches. A database survey of 16S rRNA gene sequences (585 records in total) obtained from olive mill waste environments revealed the dominance of members of Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. Independent studies confirmed that OMW microbial communities’ structure is cultivar dependant. On the other hand, the detection of fecal bacteria and other potential human pathogens in OMWs is of major concern and deserves further examination. Despite the fact that the degradation and detoxification of the olive mill wastes have been mostly investigated through the application of known bacterial and fungal species originated from other environmental sources, the biotechnological potential of indigenous microbiota should be further exploited in respect to olive mill waste bioremediation and inactivation of plant and human pathogens. The implementation of omic and metagenomic approaches will further elucidate disposal issues of olive mill wastes.