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Microbial consortiums of putative degraders of low-density polyethylene-associated compounds in the ocean
Pinto, M.; Zhao, Z.; Klun, K.; Libowitzky, E.; Herndl, G.J. (2022). Microbial consortiums of putative degraders of low-density polyethylene-associated compounds in the ocean. mSystems 7(2): e01415-21.
In: mSystems. American Society for Microbiology: Washington, DC. e-ISSN 2379-5077, meer
Peer reviewed article  

Beschikbaar in  Auteurs 

Author keywords
    LDPE; ocean; biodegradation; biofilms; metagenomics

Auteurs  Top 
  • Pinto, M.
  • Zhao, Z.
  • Klun, K.
  • Libowitzky, E.
  • Herndl, G.J., meer

    Polyethylene (PE) is one of the most abundant plastics in the ocean. The development of a biofilm on PE in the ocean has been reported, yet whether some of the biofilm-forming organisms can biodegrade this plastic in the environment remains unknown. Via metagenomics analysis, we taxonomically and functionally analyzed three biofilm communities using low-density polyethylene (LDPE) as their sole carbon source for 2 years. Several of the taxa that increased in relative abundance over time were closely related to known degraders of alkane and other hydrocarbons. Alkane degradation has been proposed to be involved in PE degradation, and most of the organisms increasing in relative abundance over time harbored genes encoding proteins essential in alkane degradation, such as the genes alkB and CYP153, encoding an alkane monooxygenase and a cytochrome P450 alkane hydroxylase, respectively. Weight loss of PE sheets when incubated with these communities and chemical and electron microscopic analyses provided evidence for alteration of the PE surface over time. Taken together, these results provide evidence for the utilization of LDPE-associated compounds by the prokaryotic communities. This report identifies a group of genes potentially involved in the degradation of the LDPE polymeric structure and/or associated plastic additives in the ocean and describes a phylogenetically diverse community of plastic biofilm-dwelling microbes with the potential for utilizing LDPE-associated compounds as carbon and energy source.

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