Microbiological Investigation on Some Biodegradable Plastics used as Packaging Materials
Keywords:Biodegradation, Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Oxo-biodegradable Plastic (OBD), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
In the past several years, many biodegradable plastics have been introduced in the commercial market because ordinary, non-biodegradable plastics are known to be recalcitrant to microbial attack. When these types of plastics accumulate Â in our environment, it is the primary source of Â water and land pollution and other environmental problems like spread of diseases and flooding.Â Â The degrading abilities of two bacterial species, Cellulomonas flavigena and Arthrobacter luteus and the white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium were investigated in the laboratory by incubating strips of biodegradable plastics with pure bacterial cultures inÂ petri dishes and determining theirÂ weight loss through time. Soil burial tests were also undertaken for three types of biodegradable plastics to investigate on the degrading abilities of the natural soil microflora forÂ up to 90 days. Â Interestingly, theÂ white fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium, wasÂ able to degrade the ordinary non-biodegradable low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic at a greater rate, as indicated byÂ a higher percent weight loss as compared to the weight loss ofÂ the oxo-biodegradable plastic (OBD). Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) analyses of the two typesÂ of plastics incubated with pure cultures of P. chrysosporiumÂ showed signs of degradation like holes, cracks, striations and flakes on the surfaces of LDPE and OBD.Â Pure cultures of microorganisms used in this study are known to possess enzymes like amylases, cellulases,Â peroxidases, laccases and other ligninolytic enzymes that support a wide rangeÂ of degradation of several aromatic compounds which might be responsible for the degradation of plastics observed in this study.
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