Newly designed group-specific PCR primers for denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) were used to investigate foaming mycolata from a bioreactor treating an industrial saline waste-water. Genetic profiles on DGGE gels were different with NaCl at 1.65 and 8.24 g l-1, demonstrating that mycolata community was affected by salinity. A semi-nested PCR strategy resulted in more bands in community genetic profiles than direct amplification. DNA sequencing of bands confirmed the efficacy of the novel primers with sequences recovered being most similar to foam producing mycolata. The new group-specific primers/DGGE approach is a new step toward a more complete understanding of functionally important groups of bacteria involved in biological treatment of waste-water. © Springer 2006.