Eighteen 4-t-octylphenol-degrading bacteria were isolated and screened for the presence of degradative genes by polymerase chain reaction method using four designed primer sets. The primer sets were designed to amplify specific fragments from multicomponent phenol hydroxylase, single component monooxygenase, catechol 1,2-dioxygenase and catechol 2,3-dioxygenase genes. Seventeen of the 18 isolates exhibited the presence of a 232 bp amplicon that shared 61-92% identity to known multicomponent phenol hydroxylase gene sequences from short and/or medium-chain alkylphenol-degrading strains. Twelve of the 18 isolates were positive for a 324 bp region that exhibited 78-95% identity to the closest published catechol 1,2-dioxygenase gene sequences. The two strains, Pseudomonas putida TX2 and Pseudomonas sp. TX1, contained catechol 1,2-dioxygenase genes also have catechol 2,3-dioxygenase genes. Our result revealed that most of the isolated bacteria are able to degrade long-chain alkylphenols via multicomponent phenol hydroxylase and the ortho-cleavage pathway. (C) 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.