Cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) species that serves as a food, feed, and bioenergy crop. O. ficus-indica is an attractive alternative biofuel feedstock due to its low water demand and high biomass productivity. Current ethanol yields from O. ficus-indica are not commercially viable due to low concentrations of released fermentable carbohydrates. Axenic strains of bacteria and fungi were isolated and characterized from a soil microbial community consortium that effectively degrades cladodes into soluble components. The consortium consisted of species representing 14 genera of eubacteria and four genera of fungi. The digestion efficiency of each axenic isolate was evaluated by measuring the release of soluble material after aerobic digestion of cladodes and direct measurement of cellulase and pectinase activities in the culture supernatants. Pectobacterium cacticida was the most effective eubacterial species identified for degrading cladodes among all isolates evaluated. Thus, P. cacticida holds great promise for increasing the release of fermentable sugars and improving overall ethanol yields.