Recently, the Marine Microbial Innovation Team of Third Institute of Oceanography, Ministry of Natural Resources of China, published a research paper titled "Biodegradation of polystyrene (PS) by marine bacteria in mangrove environment" in the Journal of Hazardous Materials (impact factor: 14.224). This study enriched the diversity of plastic-degrading microorganisms and is the first report on marine PS plastic-degrading microorganisms.
Polystyrene (PS) is one of the most common plastic pollutants in marine environments. Its microplastics are widely distributed in nearshore, deep-sea environments, and marine organisms. Plastic pollution poses a serious threat to marine ecosystems, and the fate of plastics in marine environments is an important scientific issue of international concern. However, there is currently a lack of understanding of the diversity of plastic-degrading microorganisms and their environmental roles in marine environments, both domestically and internationally. In order to obtain microbial resources for plastic degradation in marine environments and evaluate their role in self-purification of marine environments, the innovative team has conducted systematic studies on plastic microorganisms in various marine environments, such as deep sea and nearshore, in recent years, and has discovered and obtained various microorganisms capable of degrading plastics, and conducted research on their metabolic mechanisms.
In this study, through field sampling and laboratory analysis of foamed PS (Expanded PS, EPS) waste in mangrove environments, multiple PS-degrading bacterial communities were obtained, demonstrating that PS can be used as the sole carbon and energy source by various marine degraders. Biofilms were formed on the surface of PS, and it was found that bacteria from seven families, including Sphingomonadaceae, Rhodanobacteraceae, Rhizobiaceae, Dermacoccaceae, Rhodocyclaceae, Hyphomicrobiaceae, and Methyloligellaceae, were involved in PS degradation. To further verify their degradation activity, nine genera of degrading bacteria were isolated from the samples, including Novsphingobium, Gordonia, Stappia, Mesobacillus, Alcanivorax, Flexivirga, Cytobacillus, Thioclava, and Thalassospira. Degradation activity assays were conducted on two strains of Novsphingobium and Gordonia, and degradation rates of 2.66% and 7.73% were observed within 30 days, respectively. Metabolite analysis indicated that the microbial degradation of PS occurred through an oxidation pathway. The research results provide reference for further understanding the environmental roles of marine plastic-degrading microorganisms and the development and utilization of microbial resources for plastic degradation.
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