March 9th, 2012 | Category: Fungi, Microbiology, Papers | One comment

Plastic-eating fungi

Biology is the raw material for synthetic biology.

In this paper, ‘Biodegradation of polyester polyurethane by endophytic fungi‘ published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the authors describe fungal isolates from the Ecuadorian rainforest with the potential for bioremediation.

From the abstract:

Bioremediation is … made possible by the vast metabolic diversity of the microbial world. To explore this diversity for the breakdown of plastic, we screened several dozen endophytic fungi for their ability to degrade the synthetic polymer polyester polyurethane (PUR). Several organisms demonstrated the ability to efficiently degrade PUR in both solid and liquid suspensions … Two Pestalotiopsis microspora isolates were uniquely able to grow on PUR as the sole carbon source under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Molecular characterization of this activity suggests that a serine hydrolase is responsible for degradation of PUR.

A subsequent paper has since been published in Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology along similar lines, ‘Degradation of polyurethane by Aspergillus flavus (ITCC 6051) isolated from soil‘.

Identification of the enzymes (and the genes that code for them) and an understanding of metabolic steps involved may result in these traits being engineered into other, more suitable hosts. The pathways may also be improved or enzymatic function manipulated to suit a specific requirement.

This is bioprospecting.

1 comment to Plastic-eating fungi

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*