Bioremediation for Environmental Pollutants

Characteristic Features of Plastic Microbial Degradation

Author(s): Soumyaranjan Senapati, Sreelipta Das and Alok Kumar Panda *

Pp: 451-492 (42)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815123494123010016

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The increase in the amount of plastic waste, especially microplastics and the environmental pollution caused by it has diverted the research focus of the world into plastic recycling and degradation. Hence in the last decade, different strategies have been adopted to combat this problem. Albeit many physiochemical technologies are there for the degradation of plastics, they give rise to harmful chemicals as by-products. This has shifted the priority of our research to the biodegradation of plastics by microbes. In fact, in the last decade, many microorganisms have been discovered with the ability to degrade many conventional plastics with moderate efficiency but longer duration. The initial part of this chapter discusses the various kinds of plastics present and the methods adopted for the degradation of plastics, with special emphasis on the factors affecting plastic degradation. In the subsequent section, the microbial degradation of different plastics by bacteria and fungi, along with a mechanism, has been outlined. Furthermore, this chapter also briefly discusses the role of enzymes in the degradation of different plastics by microbes and the future of plastic biodegradation.

Keywords: Plastics, Plastics biodegradation, Microbes, Bacteria, Fungi, Microbial consortia, Microbial biofilm, Biodegradation mechanism, Enzymes, PETase.

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