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To investigate the biotransformation of p-coumaric acid into p-hydroxybenzoic acid (p-HBA) by Paecilomyces variotii Bainier MTCC 6581.As a result of p-coumaric acid degradation by P. variotii, three phenolic metabolites, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde (p-HBAld), p-HBA and protocatechuic acid were formed. These phenolics were detected using TLC and HPLC. The identity of p-HBA and p-HBAld was further confirmed by mass spectrometry. Various analyses showed that 10·0 mmol l−1 concentration of p-coumaric acid produced a maximum amount of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, 200 mg l−1, into the medium at 37°C with high-density cultures.A catabolic pathway of p-coumaric acid by the fungus P. variotii is suggested for the first time. During the process of p-coumaric acid degradation, p-HBA accumulated in the medium as the major degradation product.Microbial degradation of cinnamic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid has continued to be the focus of intensive study. The main goal was to identify the microbial species capable of converting these substances into commercially value-added products such as benzoic acid derivatives or aromatic aldehydes.