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Plastic degradation and recycling using microalgae

  Dr. Daniel Moog, Philipp Mann, Vasilij Rooth


Although plastic is a versatile and highly useful material, plastic pollution has become a major ecological issue on our planet. The severity of consequences resulting from the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment (land and sea) is so far unforeseeable. The issue not only concerns larger plastic parts, such as e.g. bottles or food wrappings, but also so-called microplastics, small fragments below 5 mm that are often the product of degradation, erosion and weathering processes of larger parts. Moreover, cosmetics (additives), synthetic clothing fibres and other industrial products can be the source for microplastics brought into the environment by humans. Since plastic is a synthetic compound foreign to nature it is highly durable and hardly biodegradable. Recycling of plastic materials is often expensive, may involve toxic chemicals, and occurs at an efficiency so far unsatisfactory. Biological alternatives for the industrial process of plastic recycling are scarce.

Via synthetic biology, our group is aiming to generate a microalgal-based bioreactor capable of plastic degradation in a biotechnology approach. Our goal is to develop and establish an efficient biological, eco-friendly system that might help decreasing the enormous plastic pollution on Earth and to advance the performance of plastic recycling.

First results of our studies have been published in Microbial Cell Factories recently:

Moog D, Schmitt J, Senger J, Zarzycki J, Rexer KH, Linne U, Erb T and Maier UG (2019) Using a marine microalga as a chassis for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) degradation. Microb Cell Fact 18:171 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12934-019-1220-z

 

PET degradation jpg

Zuletzt aktualisiert: 05.05.2020 · moogd

 
 
 
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