1. Microbial ecology: A new perspective of plastic degradation

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Somia Liaqat, Mubashar Hussain, Muhammad Faheem Malik, Asifa Aslam, Kainat Mumtaz


Plastic pollution has emerged as an inevitable socio-environmental cause of pollution with ever increasing loads of plastic in everyday life. Extensive use of plastics especially disposable plastic (single-use) and presence of these non-degradable plastics in environment posing great menace to biodiversity in many habitats by disturbing ecosystem functioning. The purpose of this review is to explore the role of free living or symbiotic microbes in plastic degradation documented in the literature. Millions of plastic bags, dispensing containers, packaging and drinking bottles are thrown into the environment after single use every day. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Low density polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS) and Expanded polystyrene (EPS) are major types of plastics used in the manufacture of millions of plastic bags, dispensing containers, packaging, food packaging film and drinking bottles are thrown into the environment after single use every day. These plastics accumulate in aquatic reservoirs and affects feeding guilds; ultimately disturbing community structure and ecosystem productivity. Five bacterial strains (belonging to genera Pseudomonas and Bacillus) have been isolated and found effective in degrading plastic. Recently, few insect larvae have been explored for their ability to feed on plastics; numerous bacterial strains, showing potential for degrading plastics, have been isolated from the guts of Tenebrio molitor, Tenebrio obscurus and Plodia interpunctella larvae. Biodegradation of plastics can prove to be an environment friendly way of eliminating plastics waste from environment. Elaborative work leading to the identification of specific enzymes and degradation pathways can help in plastic degradation at industrial level.

Keywords: Biodegradation; Insect larvae; Microbial species; Microplastics


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