Norwegian Soils and Waters Contain Mesophilic, Plastic-Degrading Bacteria
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCharnock C. Norwegian Soils and Waters Contain Mesophilic, Plastic-Degrading Bacteria. Microorganisms. 2021;9(1) https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9010094
Plastic pollution has become one of the most critical environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production, compounded by persistence of plastic wastes in the environment, are outpacing efforts to keep ecosystems plastic-free. A switch to plastics more amenable to microbial attack is one of several possible responses. Against this background, the current study describes the isolation, enumeration and polyphasic characterization of plastic-degrading bacteria present in Norwegian terrestrial and aquatic habits. It shows that these bacteria are present in relatively high numbers, and that plastic-degrading capabilities are found in several taxa, most especially Streptomyces. Some isolates wereable to degrade several plastics. Notably, a Rhodococcus sp. and a Streptomyces sp. degraded, respectively, four and six of the eight plastics investigated and a number of other polymers relevant for plastic blends. The paper also has a methodological aspect, presenting various approaches for assaying plastic-degrading properties and a PCR/sequencing-based approach for the identification of potential polyethylene terephthalate-degrading genes. A candidate gene was detected in several Streptomyces isolates. The study shows that Norwegian environments are a rich source of bacteria with the ability to degrade bioplastics possibly representing a natural remediation capacity, as well as a potential source of useful enzymes.