An indigenous mixed culture of microorganisms, isolated from a sewage treatment plant, was investigated for its potential to simultaneously degrade phenol and m-cresol during its growth in batch shake flasks. 22 full factorial designs with the two substrates as the factors, at two different levels and two different initial concentration ranges, were employed to carry out the biodegradation experiments. For complete utilisation of phenol and m-cresol, the culture took a minimum duration of 21 hrs at their low concentration of 100 mg/L each, and a maximum duration of 187 hrs at high concentration of 600 mg/L each in the multisubstrate system. The biodegradation results also showed that the presence of phenol in low concentration range (100–300 mg/L did not inhibit m-cresol biodegradation; on the other hand, presence of m-cresol inhibited phenol biodegradation by the culture. Moreover, irrespective of the concentrations used, phenol was degraded preferentially and earlier than m-cresol. During the culture growth, a lag phase was observed above a combined concentration of 500 mg/L i.e., 200 mg/L m-cresol and 300 mg/L of phenol and above). Statistical analysis of the specific growth rate of the culture in the multisubstrate system was also performed in the form of ANOVA and Student ‘t’ test, which gave good interpretation in terms of main and interaction effects of the substrates.

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