The continuous accumulation of microplastics in the environment poses ecological threats and has been an increasing problem worldwide. In this study, eight bacterial strains were isolated from mangrove sediment in Peninsular Malaysia to mitigate the environmental impact of microplastics and develop a clean-up option. The bacterial isolates were screened for their potential to degrade UV-treated microplastics from polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS). Only two isolates, namely, Bacillus cereus and Bacillus gottheilii, grew on a synthetic medium containing different microplastic polymers as the sole carbon source. A shake flask experiment was carried out to further evaluate the biodegradability potential of the isolates. Degradation was monitored by recording the weight loss of microplastics and the growth pattern of the isolates in the mineral medium. The biodegradation extent was validated by assessment of the morphological and structural changes through scanning electron microscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analyses. The calculated weight loss percentages of the microplastic particles by B. cereus after 40 days were 1.6%, 6.6%, and 7.4% for PE, PET, and PS, respectively. B. gottheilii recorded weight loss percentages of 6.2%, 3.0%, 3.6%, and 5.8% for PE, PET, PP, and PS, respectively. The designated isolates degraded the microplastic material and exhibited potential for remediation of microplastic-contaminated environment. Biodegradation tests must be conducted to characterize the varied responses of microbes toward pollutants, such as microplastics. Hence, a novel approach for biodegradation of microplastics must be developed to help mitigate the environmental impact of plastics and microplastic polymers.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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