OPEN PloS one | 24 Aug 2013
JM da Luz, SA Paes, MD Nunes, Mde C da Silva and MC Kasuya
Growing concerns regarding the impact of the accumulation of plastic waste over several decades on the environmental have led to the development of biodegradable plastic. These plastics can be degraded by microorganisms and absorbed by the environment and are therefore gaining public support as a possible alternative to petroleum-derived plastics. Among the developed biodegradable plastics, oxo-biodegradable polymers have been used to produce plastic bags. Exposure of this waste plastic to ultraviolet light (UV) or heat can lead to breakage of the polymer chains in the plastic, and the resulting compounds are easily degraded by microorganisms. However, few studies have characterized the microbial degradation of oxo-biodegradable plastics. In this study, we tested the capability of Pleurotus ostreatus to degrade oxo-biodegradable (D2W) plastic without prior physical treatment, such as exposure to UV or thermal heating. After 45 d of incubation in substrate-containing plastic bags, the oxo-biodegradable plastic, which is commonly used in supermarkets, developed cracks and small holes in the plastic surface as a result of the formation of hydroxyl groups and carbon-oxygen bonds. These alterations may be due to laccase activity. Furthermore, we observed the degradation of the dye found in these bags as well as mushroom formation. Thus, P. ostreatus degrades oxo-biodegradable plastics and produces mushrooms using this plastic as substrate.
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