Microbial Degradation of Plastics: New Plastic Degraders, Mixed Cultures and Engineering Strategies.

Samantha Gini Jenkins, Alba Martinez i Quer, Cristiano Varrone*, César Fonseca

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Plastic and plastic recycling/degradation has been in the spotlight during last decade, due to its increasing waste accumulation in all world’s ecosystems and the huge challenge deriving from micro-plastic pollution. Therefore, different strategies are under investigation, trying to cope with this problem. Although depolymerisation of plastics by chemico-physical methods seems to represent a promising technology, biodegradation by microorganisms has been raising interest in recent years. In fact, new studies regarding the possibility of engineering specific plastic-degrading enzymes have obtained much attention by the media, due to the hope of overcoming one of the main bottlenecks of this technology: the extremely slow conversion rates. In the following chapter, we will be discussing two important strategies, which are expected to help overcoming these bottlenecks: genetic engineering to improve the catalytic activity of plastic-degrading enzymes and the development of syntrophism and cross-feeding mechanisms in enriched microbial communities. Finally, the potential of ongoing studies and future trends will also be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoil Microenvironment for Bioremediation and Polymer Production
EditorsNazia Jamil, Prasun Kumar, Rida Batool
Publication date27 Nov 2019
ISBN (Print)9781119592051
ISBN (Electronic)9781119592129
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019


  • plastic degradation
  • protein engineering
  • Biofilm
  • PET

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