1 Department of Biology Education, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Jl. Colombo 1, Karangmalang, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

2 Department of Chemistry Education, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Jl. Colombo 1, Karangmalang, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

3 Research Center for Food Technology and Processing, National Research and Innovation Agency, Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The utilization of disposable masks during and subsequent to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the emergence of mask waste. The bacteria that thrive on mask waste have special characteristics. The objective of this research was to identify, choose, and analyze the bacteria present in discarded face masks at landfill sites (Piyungan, Yogyakarta and Jatibarang, Semarang), coastal areas (Tanjung Pasir, Tangerang, and Marina, Semarang), as well as mangrove forests (Teluk Naga, Tangerang, and Tirang, Semarang) situated in Java, Indonesia.
METHODS: The bacterial isolation was performed using minimal salt medium. Bacterial isolates were screened in a minimal salt medium supplemented with three types of masks (black duckbill, blue medical, white Korean filter) as the sole carbon and energy source at the various potential of hydrogen levels (5, 7, 9), temperatures (10, 30, 50 degrees Celsius), and sodium chloride concentrations (2.5, 5.0, 7.5 percent). The bacterial strains with the highest optical density values across all treatments were determined through the sequencing of the 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid gene. These selected bacteria were then evaluated for their ability to produce biofilms under different potential of hydrogen and salt concentrations. The resistance to heavy metals (lead, copper, iron) and antibiotics (penicillin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, kanamycin) was also investigated.
FINDINGS:  A grand total of 183 bacterial strains were obtained, comprising 80 isolates from landfills, 47 isolates from beaches, and 56 isolates from mangroves. The selected bacteria identified as Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus mirabilis, Staphylococcus sciuri, and Staphylococcus arlettae based on 16 svedberg ribosomal ribonucleic acid gene analysis. The chosen strains exhibited the capacity to generate biofilm across various potential of hydrogen and salinity conditions. Furthermore, these strains displayed resilience to heavy metals (such as lead, copper, and iron) as well as resistance to antibiotics (including penicillin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, and kanamycin).
CONCLUSION: Mask waste discovered in landfills, beaches, and mangroves can promote bacterial growth. This study indicated that the selected bacteria are capable of flourishing through the utilization of various mask types as their exclusive carbon and energy source across a wide range of potential of hydrogen levels, temperatures, and salinity concentrations. The ability to produce biofilms, withstand antibiotics, and endure heavy metal ions provides a protective environment for bacteria, enhancing their resilience against environmental stresses, and antimicrobial agents. Analysis of bacterial profiles reveals the intricate connections between microorganisms and their surroundings. The results of this study have implications for public health, environmental pollution, and ecosystem dynamics.

Graphical Abstract

Bacterial profiling of mask waste from terrestrial and marine environment


  • The number bacterial strains isolated from mask waste in landfills was higher compared to mangroves and beaches;
  • Seven species were identified using the 16S rRNA gene: Bacillus cereus MSK7 and MSK267; Pseudomonas aeruginosa MSK12; Proteus mirabilis MSK102 and MSK117; Staphylococcus sciuri MSK224; Staphylococcus arlettae MSK299;
  • The selected bacteria from mask waste in landfills, beaches, and mangroves were capable for using masks as a sole energy and carbon sources, biofilm production, heavy metal tolerance, and antibiotic resistance.


Main Subjects


©2024 The author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit:


GJESM Publisher remains neutral concerning jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Google Scholar Scopus Web of Science PlumX Metrics Altmetrics Mendeley |


GJESM Publisher

Letters to Editor

GJESM Journal welcomes letters to the editor for the post-publication discussions and corrections which allows debate post publication on its site, through the Letters to Editor. Letters pertaining to manuscript published in GJESM should be sent to the editorial office of GJESM within three months of either online publication or before printed publication, except for critiques of original research. Following points are to be considering before sending the letters (comments) to the editor.

[1] Letters that include statements of statistics, facts, research, or theories should include appropriate references, although more than three are discouraged.
[2] Letters that are personal attacks on an author rather than thoughtful criticism of the author’s ideas will not be considered for publication.
[3] Letters can be no more than 300 words in length.
[4] Letter writers should include a statement at the beginning of the letter stating that it is being submitted either for publication or not.
[5] Anonymous letters will not be considered.
[6] Letter writers must include their city and state of residence or work.
[7] Letters will be edited for clarity and length.