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Biofilm formation by Exiguobacterium sp. DR11 and DR14 alter polystyrene surface properties and initiate biodegradation
Chauhan D., Agrawal G., Deshmukh S., Roy S.S.,
Published in Royal Society of Chemistry
Volume: 8
Issue: 66
Pages: 37590 - 37599
Polystyrene is a chemically inert synthetic aromatic polymer. This widely used form of plastic is recalcitrant to biodegradation. The exponential production and consumption of polystyrene in various sectors has presented a great environment risk and raised the problem of waste management. Biodegradation by bacteria has previously shown great potential against various xenobiotics but there are only a few reports concerning polyolefins. By screening wetland microbes, we found two bacterial species-Exiguobacterium sibiricum strain DR11 and Exiguobacterium undae strain DR14 which showed promising biodegradation potential against polystyrene. In this study, we report the degradation of non-irradiated solid polystyrene material after incubation with these isolates. Growth studies suggested that the Exiguobacterium strains utilize polystyrene as a carbon source. Moreover, our data suggest that polymer degradation was initiated by biofilm formation over the PS surface leading to alteration in the physical properties of the material. Surface property analysis by AFM revealed significantly enhanced roughness resulting in reduced surface hydrophobicity of polystyrene. Fourier-transfer infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopic analysis showed breakdown of polystyrene backbone by oxidation. The extent of deterioration was further determined by percent weight reduction of polystyrene after incubation with bacteria. Our data support the fact that strains of extremophile bacterium Exiguobacterium are capable of degrading polystyrene and can be further used to mitigate the environmental pollution caused by plastics. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.
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Published in Royal Society of Chemistry
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