CBMA Team Identifies Microorganisms That Degrade Plastic

CBMA Team Identifies Microorganisms That Degrade Plastic

A team from CBMA has identified a group of yeasts and bacteria capable of degrading plastic. The results are very promising and highlight these microorganisms as a sustainable alternative in the fight against global plastic pollution.

The study began in 2021 and significantly contributed to João Gomes’ master’s thesis in Applied Biochemistry. The research was supervised by Raúl Machado and Isabel Soares-Silva, in collaboration with the company Vizelpas, and was supported by European funding through the Ecobib and River2Ocean scientific projects.

“Plastics are widely used around the world because they are durable and cheap, replacing other materials. However, they are increasingly accumulating in the environment, with negative effects on ecosystems, the economy, and health,” says João Gomes.

This research applied various yeasts and bacteria to degrade polyethylene, one of the most common and polluting plastics due to its low biodegradability. It was concluded that Yarrowia lipolytica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa adhered to the plastic’s surface, formed biofilms (the first stage of degradation), and produced enzymes that “fed” on the plastic, breaking it down.

More information here (PT only)