Plastic pollution is becoming an emerging environmental issue due to inappropriate disposal at the end of the materials life cycle. When plastics are released, they undergo physical and chemical corrosion, leading to the formation of small particles, commonly referred to as microplastics. In this study, a microbial community derived from the leachate of a bioreactor containing a mixture of soil and plastic collected during a landfill mining process underwent an enrichment protocol in order to select the microbial species specifically involved in plastic degradation. The procedure was set up and tested on polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polyethylene terephthalate, both in anaerobic and aerobic conditions. The evolution of the microbiome has been monitored using a combined approach based on microscopy, marker gene amplicon sequencing, genome-centric metagenomics, degradation assays, and GC-MS analyses. This procedure permitted us to deeply investigate the metabolic pathways potentially involved in plastic degradation and to depict the route for microplastics metabolization from the enriched microbial community. Six enzymes, among the ones already identified, were found in our samples (alkane 1-monooxygenase, cutinase, feruloyl esterase, triacylglycerol lipase, medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, and protocatechuate 4,5-dioxygenase) and new enzymes, addressed as MHETases most probably for the presence of the catalytic triad (His-Asp-Ser), were detected. Among the enzymes involved in plastics degradation, alkane 1-monooxygenase was found in high copy number (between ten and 62 copies) in the metagenomes that resulted most abundant in the microbiome enriched with polyethylene, while protocatechuate 4,5-dioxygenase was found between one and eight copies in the most abundant metagenomes of the microbial culture enriched with polyethylene terephthalate. Degradation assays, performed using both bacterial lysates and supernatants, revealed interesting results on polyethylene terephthalate degradation. Moreover, this study demonstrates to what extent different types of microplastics can affect the microbial community composition. The results obtained significantly increase the knowledge of the plastic degradation process.

Preliminary investigation of microorganisms potentially involved in microplastics degradation using an integrated metagenomic and biochemical approach

Pirillo, Valentina;Molla, Gianluca;
2022

Abstract

Plastic pollution is becoming an emerging environmental issue due to inappropriate disposal at the end of the materials life cycle. When plastics are released, they undergo physical and chemical corrosion, leading to the formation of small particles, commonly referred to as microplastics. In this study, a microbial community derived from the leachate of a bioreactor containing a mixture of soil and plastic collected during a landfill mining process underwent an enrichment protocol in order to select the microbial species specifically involved in plastic degradation. The procedure was set up and tested on polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, and polyethylene terephthalate, both in anaerobic and aerobic conditions. The evolution of the microbiome has been monitored using a combined approach based on microscopy, marker gene amplicon sequencing, genome-centric metagenomics, degradation assays, and GC-MS analyses. This procedure permitted us to deeply investigate the metabolic pathways potentially involved in plastic degradation and to depict the route for microplastics metabolization from the enriched microbial community. Six enzymes, among the ones already identified, were found in our samples (alkane 1-monooxygenase, cutinase, feruloyl esterase, triacylglycerol lipase, medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, and protocatechuate 4,5-dioxygenase) and new enzymes, addressed as MHETases most probably for the presence of the catalytic triad (His-Asp-Ser), were detected. Among the enzymes involved in plastics degradation, alkane 1-monooxygenase was found in high copy number (between ten and 62 copies) in the metagenomes that resulted most abundant in the microbiome enriched with polyethylene, while protocatechuate 4,5-dioxygenase was found between one and eight copies in the most abundant metagenomes of the microbial culture enriched with polyethylene terephthalate. Degradation assays, performed using both bacterial lysates and supernatants, revealed interesting results on polyethylene terephthalate degradation. Moreover, this study demonstrates to what extent different types of microplastics can affect the microbial community composition. The results obtained significantly increase the knowledge of the plastic degradation process.
Degradation assays; Functional annotation; Landfill; Metagenomics; Microplastics; Plastic-degrading enzymes; Cytochrome P-450 CYP4A; Metagenome; Metagenomics; Plastics; Polyethylene; Polyethylene Terephthalates; Microplastics; Water Pollutants, Chemical
Giangeri, Ginevra; Morlino, Maria Silvia; De Bernardini, Nicola; Ji, Mengyuan; Bosaro, Matteo; Pirillo, Valentina; Antoniali, Paolo; Molla, Gianluca; Raga, Roberto; Treu, Laura; Campanaro, Stefano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/2141634
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