Polyacrylamide (PAM) is a water-soluble polymer that is widely used as a flocculant in sewage treatment. The accumulation of PAM affects the formation of dewatered sludge and potentially produces hazardous monomers. In the present study, the bacterial strain HI47 was isolated from dewatered sludge. This strain could metabolize PAM as its sole nutrient source and was subsequently identified as Pseudomonas putida
. The efficiency of PAM degradation was 31.1% in 7 days and exceeded 45% under optimum culture condition (pH 7.2, 39 °C and 100 rpm). The addition of yeast extract and glucose improved the bacterial growth and PAM degradation. The degraded PAM samples were analyzed by gel-filtration chromatography, Fourier transform infrared and high-performance liquid chromatography. The results showed that high-molecular-weight PAM was partly cleaved to small molecular oligomer derivatives and part of the amide groups of PAM had been converted to carboxyl groups. The biodegradation did not accumulate acrylamide monomers. Based on the SDS-PAGE and N
-terminal sequencing results, the PAM amide groups were converted into carboxyl groups by a PAM-induced extracellular enzyme from the aliphatic amidase family.
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