Welcome to International Network for Natural Sciences | INNSpub

Biodegradation of plastics using microorganisms

Review Paper | July 1, 2020

| Download 8

Sehrish Kalsoom, Dr. Zahida Nasreen, Aneela Sharif, Rabia Bashir

Key Words:

Int. J. Biosci.17( 1), 201-215, July 2020

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12692/ijb/17.1.201-215


IJB 2020 [Generate Certificate]


Plastics have been playing an important role in our lives since many years. Some significant characters of these polymers such as lightweight and durability make them an attractive material and they are largely being used in number of applications e.g. packaging and electrical insulations. These polymers can be molded into desired shapes which make them an excellent material for making pipes, sheets and packaging material. Toughness of plastic makes them an extremely resistant and inert material toward degradation as a result they are accumulating in terrestrial and marine ecosystem at a dangerous rate over the last few years. Attempts have been made to replace synthetic plastic material with bioplastics or plastic those are easily biodegraded. Biodegradation is a noninvasive technique used to degrade plastic material through action of microbes so that plastic contamination can be reduced and terrestrial and marine biota could be saved from hazardous effects of these polymers.


Copyright © 2020
By Authors and International Network for
Natural Sciences (INNSPUB)
This article is published under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution Liscense 4.0

Biodegradation of plastics using microorganisms

Alexender H, Parsons JR, Stauchler ID, Corcoran SF, Gona O, Mayott C. 1981. Orthopad Reviews 10.

Alshehrei F. 2017. Biodegradation of synthetic and natural plastic by microorganisms. Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology 5, 8-19.

Ammala A, Batemana S, Deana K, Petinakisa E, Sangwana P, Wonga S, Yuana Q, Yua L, Patrickb C, Leong KH. 2011. An overview of degradable and biodegradable polyolefins. Progress in Polymer Science 36, 1015-1049.

Andrady AL. 2011. Microplastics in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62, 1596-1605.

Austin HP, Allen MD, Donohoe BS, Rorrer NA, Kearns FL, Silveira RL. 2018. Characterization and engineering of a plastic-degrading aromatic polyesterase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, 4350-4357.

Barlow CY, Morgan DC. 2013. Polymer film packaging for food: An environmental assessment. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 78, 74-80.

Barnes DKA, Galgani F, Thompson RC, Barlaz M. 2009. Accumulation and fragmentation of plastic debris in global environments. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, 1985-1998.

Bhardwaj H, Gupta R, Tiwari A. 2012. Microbial population associated with plastic degradation. Scientific Reports 1, 272.

Bonhomme S, Cuerb A, Delortb AM, Lemairea J, Sancelmeb M, Scott G. 2003. Environmental biodegradation of polyethylene Polymer Degradation and Stability 81, 441-452.

Byuntae L, Anthony LP, Alfred F, Theodore BB. 1991. Biodegradation of degradable plastic polyethylene by Phanerocheate and Streptomyces species. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 57, 678-688.

Cangemi JM, Dos Santos A, Neto SC, Chierice GO. 2008. Biodegradation of polyurethane derived from castor oil. Polímeros: Ciência e Tecnologia       18, 201-206.

Chandra R, Rustgi R. 1998. Biodegradable Polymers. Progress in Polymer Science 23, 1273-1335.

Chanprateep S. 2010. Current trends in biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering 110, 621-632.

Chiellini E, Corti A, D’Antone S, Solaro R. 2003. Biodegradation of poly (vinyl alcohol) based materials. Progress in Polymer Science 28, 963-1014.

Cooper DA, Corcoran PL. 2010. Effects of mechanical and chemical processes on the degradation of plastic beach debris on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60, 650-654.

Cregut M, Bedas M, Durand MJ, Thouand G. 2013. New insights into polyurethane biodegradation and realistic prospects for the development of a sustainable waste recycling process. Biotechnology Advances.

Datta PK, Mishra K, Kumar MNVR. 1998. Popular Plastics And Packaging, Mahindra Publishers, New Delhi, India 73.

Davis G, Song JH. 2006. Biodegradable packaging based on raw materials from crops and their impact on waste management. Industrial Crops and Products 23, 147-161.

Derraik JGB. 2002. The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: a review. Marine Pollution Bulletin 44, 842-852.

Doi Y. 1990. Microbial Polyesters. VCH Publishers, New York.

Dombrow BA. 1957. Polyurethanes. Reinhold Publishing Corporation, New York.

Eubeler JP, Bernhard M, Knepper TP. 2010. Environmental biodegradation of synthetic polymers II. Biodegradation of different polymer groups. Trends in Analytical Chemistry 29, DOI: 10.1016/j. trac.2009.09.005

Eubeler JP, Bernhard M, Zok S, Knepper TP. 2009. Environmental biodegradation of synthetic polymers I. Test methodologies and procedures. Trends in Analytical Chemistry 28.

Gijpferich A 1996. Mechanisms of polymer degradation and erosion. Biomoterials 17, 103-114.

Gnanavel G, Mohana VP, Valli J, Thirumarimurugan M, Kannadasan T. 2013. Degradation of plastics waste using microbes Elixir International journal 54, 12212-12214.

Gnanavel G, Mohana VP, Valli J, Thirumarimurugan M, Kannadasan T. 2012. Degradation of Plastics Using Microorganisms. International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences 1.

Gorman M, 1993. Environmental Hazards-Marine Pollution. ABCCLIO Inc, Santa Barbara.

Gregory MR, Andrady AL. 2003. Plastics in the marine environment. In: Andrady, Anthony.L. (Ed.), Plastics and the Environment. John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0- 471-09520-6.

Gu JD, Ford TE, Mitton DB, Mitchell R. 2000. Microbial degradation and deterioration of polymeric materials. In: Revie, W. (Ed.), The Uhlig Corrosion Handbook, 2nd Edition. Wiley, New York 439-460.

Gu JD. 2003. Microbiological deterioration and degradation of synthetic polymeric materials: recent research advances. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 52, 69-91.

Gu JD. 2004. Biofouling and prevention: corrosion, biodeterioration and biodegradation of materials. In: Kultz, M. (Ed.), Handbook of Environmental Degradation of Materials. William Andrew Publishing, New York 179-206.

Gu JD. 2007. Microbial colonization of polymeric materials for space applications and mechanisms of biodeterioration: A review. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 59, 170-179.

Gu L, Ozbakkaloglu T. 2016. Use of recycled plastics in concrete: A critical review. Waste Management.

Gupta AP, Kumar V. 2007. New emerging trends in synthetic biodegradable polymers – Polylactide: A critique. European Polymer Journal 43, 4053-4074.

Haider TP, Vçlker C, Kramm J, Landfester K, Wurm FR. 2019. Plastics of the Future. The Impact of Biodegradable Polymers on the Environment and on Society. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58, 50-62.

Haines JR, Alexander M. 1974. Microbial degradation of high molecularweight alkanes. Applied Microbiology 28, 1084-1085.

Hamid DS, 2000. Handbook of Polymer Degradation, second ed. CRC press, New York, USA (773).

Harshvardhan K, Jha B. 2013. Biodegradation of low-density polyethylene by marine bacteria from pelagic waters, Arabian Sea, India. Marine Pollution Bulletin 77, 100-106.

Howard GT. 2002. Biodegradation of polyurethane: a review. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 49, 245-252.

Iovino R, Zullo R, Rao MA, Cassar L, Gianfreda L. 2008. Biodegradation of poly(lactic acid)/starch/coir biocomposites under controlled composting conditions. Polymer Degradation and Stability 93, 147-157.

Jang JC, Shinb PK, Yoonc JS, Leed IM, Leec HS, Kim MN. 2002. Glucose effect on the biodegradation of plastics by compost from food garbage. Polymer Degradation and Stability 76, 155-159.

Kay MJ, Mortan LGH, Prince EL. 1991. Bacterial degradation of polyester polyurethane. International Biodetoriation 27, 205-222.

Kim YB, Lenz RW. 2001. Polyesters from microorganisms, in: T. Scheper (Ed.) Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology 71, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heideberg, Germany 52-79.

Kister G, Cassanas G, Bergounhon M, Hoarau D, Vert M. 2000. Structural characterization and hydrolytic degradation of solid copolymers of D, L-lactideco- e-caprolactone by Raman spectroscopy. Polymer 41, 925-932.

Kumar SS, Raut S. 2015. Microbial degradation of low density polyethylene (LDPE): A review. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering.

Laist DW. 1987. Overview of the biological effects of lost and discarded plastic debris in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin 18, 319-326.

Leejarkpai T, Suwanmanee U, Rudeekit Y, Mungcharoen T. 2011. Biodegradable kinetics of plastics under controlled composting conditions. Waste Management 31, 1153-1161.

Lenz RW, Merchessault RH. 2005. Bacterial polyesters: biosynthesis, biodegradable plastics and biotechnology. Biomacromolecules 6, 1-8.

Lucas N, Bienaime C, Belloy C, Queneudec M, Silvestre F, Saucedo JEN. 2008. Polymer biodegradation: Mechanisms and estimation techniques. Chemosphere 73, 429-442.

Mabroukmm, Sabry SA. 2001. Degradation of poly (3-hydroxybutyrate) and its copolymer poly (3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) by a marine Streptomyces sp. SNG9. Microbiology Research    156, 323-335.

Martin O, Averous L. 2001. Poly (Lactic acid): plasticization and properties of biodegradable multiphase systems. Polymer 42, 6209-6219.

Massardier NV, Pestre C, Cruard-Pradet T, Bayard R. 2006. Aerobic and anaerobic biodegradability of polymer films and physico-chemical characterization. Polymer Degradation and Stability 91, 620-627.

McDermid KJ, McMullen TL. 2004. Quantitative analysis of small-plastic debris on beaches in the Hawaiian archipelago. Marine Pollution Bulletin 48, 790-794.

Mohee R, Unmar G. 2007. Determining biodegradability of plastic materials under controlled and natural composting environments. Waste Management 27, 1486-1493.

Mueller RJ. 2006. Biological degradation of synthetic polyesters-Enzymes as potential catalysts for polyester recycling Process. Biochemistry 41, 2124-2128.

Muenmee S, Chiemchaisri W, Chiemchaisri C. 2015. Microbial consortium involving biological methane oxidation in relation to the biodegradation of waste plastics in a solid waste disposal open dump site. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 1-10.

Muenmee S, Chiemchaisri W, Chiemchaisri C. 2016. Enhancement of biodegradation of plastic wastes via methane oxidation in semi-aerobic landfill. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 1-12.

Muthukumar A, Veerappapillai S. 2015. Biodegradation of Plastics- A Brief Review. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research 31, 204-209.

Nir M, Miltz J, Ram A. 1993. Update on Plastics and The Environment: Progress and Trends. Plastic Engineering 49, 75-93.

Nowak BZ, Paja J, Drozd-Bratkowicz M, Rymarz GZ. 2011. Microorganisms participating in the biodegradation of modified polyethylene films in different soils under laboratory conditions. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 65, 757-767.

O’Hara K, Iudicello S, Bierce R. 1988. A Citizen’s Guide to Plastics in the Ocean: More than a Litter Problem. Center for Marine Conservation, Washington DC.

Odusanya SA, Nkwogu JV, Alu N, Etuk Udo GA, Ajao JA, Osinkolu GA, Uzomah AC. 2013. Preliminary Studies on Microbial Degradation of Plastics Used in Packaging Potable Water in Nigeria. Official Journal of Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Techonology 31, 63-72.

Oprea S. 2010. Dependence of fungal biodegradation of PEG/castor oil-based polyurethane elastomers on the hard-segment structure. Polymer Degradation and Stability 95, 2396-2404.

Orhany Y, Buyukgungor H. 2000. Enhancement of biodegradability of disposable polyethylene in controlled biological soil. International Biodetoriation and Biodegradation 45, 49-55.

Orr IG, Hadar Y, Sivan A. 2004. Colonization, biofilm formation and biodegradation of polyethylene by a strain of Rhodococcus ruber. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 65, 97-104.

Palmisano AC, Pettigrew CA. 1992. Biodegradability of plastics, BioScience 42, 680-685. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1312174.

Pegram JE, Andrady AL. 1989. Outdoor weathering of selected polymeric materials under marine exposure conditions. Polymer Degradation and Stability 26, 333-345.

Penkhrue W, Khanongnuch C, Masaki K, Pathom-aree W, Punyodom W, Lumyong S. 2015. Isolation and screening of biopolymer-degrading microorganisms from northern Thailand. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 31, 1431-1442.

Priyanka N, Archana T. 2011. Biodegradability of Polythene and Plastic by the help of Microorganism: A Way for Brighter Future Peng, Journal of Environment and Analytical Toxicology 1, 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-0525.1000111

Reddymm, Deighton M, Gupta RK, Bhattacharya SN, Parthasarathy R. 2009. Biodegradation of oxo-biodegradable polyethylene. Journal of Applied Polymer Science 111, 1426-32.

Ren X. 2003. Biodegradable plastics: a solution or a challenge? Journal of Cleaner Production 11, 27-40.

Restrepo-Flórez JM, Bassi A, Thompson MR. 2014. Microbial degradation and deterioration of polyethylene, A review. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 88, 83-90.

Rowe L, Howard GT. 2002. Growth of Bacillus subtilis on polyurethane and the purification and characterization of a polyurethanase-lipase enzyme. International Biodeterioation and Biodegradation 50, 33-40.

Ryan PG, Moore CJ, van Franeker JA, Moloney CL. 2009. Monitoring the abundance of plastic debris in the marine environment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, 1999-2012.

Santo M, Weitsman R, Sivan A. 2012. The role of the copper-binding enzyme e laccase e in the biodegradation of polyethylene by the actinomycete Rhodococcus ruber. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 1-7.

Scott G. 1999. Polymers and the environment. Royal Society of Chemistry [Chapter 5].

Scott G. 1999. Polymers in Modern Life. Polymer and the Environment. The Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK.

Seymour RB. 1989. Polymer Science Before & After 1899: Notable Developments During The Lifetime Of Maurtis Dekkar. Journal of Macromolecular Science 26, 1023-1032.

Shah AA, Hasan F, Hameed A, Ahmed S. 2008. Biological degradation of plastics: A comprehensive review. Biotechnology Advances 26, 246-265.

Shimao M. 2001. Biodegradation of plastics. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 12, 242-247, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0958-1669.

Shimao M. 2001. Biodegradation of plastics. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 12, 242–247.

Siddique R, Khatib J, Kaur I. 2008. Use of recycled plastic in concrete: A review. Waste Management 28, 1835-1852.

Singh B, Sharma N. 2008. Mechanistic implications of plastic degradation. Polymer Degradation and Stability 93, 561-584.

Siracusa V, Rocculib P, Romanib S, Rosa MD. 2008. Biodegradable polymers for food packaging: a review. Trends in Food Science & Technology 19, 634-643.

Sudhakar M, Doblea M, Murthyb PS, Venkatesan R. 2008. Marine microbe-mediated biodegradation of low- and high-density polyethylenes. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 61, 203-213.

Suyama T, Tokiwa Y, Ouichanpagdee P, Kanagawa T, Kamagata Y. 1998. Phylogenetic Affiliation of Soil Bacteria That Degrade Aliphatic Polyesters Available Commercially as Biodegradable Plastics. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 64, 5008-5011.

Swapnil KK, Deshmukh AG, Dudhare MS, Patil VB. 2015. Microbial degradation of plastic: a review. Journal of Biochemical Technology 6, 952-961.

Teuten EL, Saquing JM, Knappe DR, Barlaz MA, Jonsson S, Bjorn A, Rowland SJ, Thompson RC, Galloway TS, Yamashita R. 2009. Transport and release of chemicals from plastics to the environment and to wild life. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 1526, 2027-2045.

Thompson R, Swan SH, Moore CJ, vom Saal FS. 2009. Our plastic age. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364, 1973.

Thompson RC, Olsen Y, Mitchell RP, Davis A, Rowland SJ, John AWG, McGonigle D, Russell AE. 2004. Lost at sea: where is all the plastic? Science 304, 838.

Tokiwa Y, Calabia BP. 2006. Biodegradability and biodegradation of poly (Lactide). Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 72, 244-251.

Tomita K, Kuraki Y, Nagai K. 1999. Isolation of thermophiles degradating poly (L-lactic acid. Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering 87, 752-755.

Trivedi P, Hasan A, Akhtar S, Siddiqui MH, Sayeed U, Khan MKA. 2016. Role of microbes in degradation of synthetic plastics and manufacture of bioplastics. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research 8, 211-216.

Urtuvia V, Villegas P, González M, Seeger M. 2014. Bacterial production of the biodegradable plastics polyhydroxyalkanoates. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.

Varjani SJ, Upasani VN. 2017. A new look on factors affecting microbial degradation of petroleum hydrocarbon pollutants. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 120, 71-83.

Volova TG, Prudnikova SV, Vinogradova ON, Syrvacheva DA, Shishatskaya EI. 2016. Microbial Degradation of Polyhydroxyalkanoates with Different Chemical Compositions and Their Biodegradability. Microbial Ecology.

Wang Y, Fan Y, Gu JD. 2003. Microbial degradation of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals phthalic acid and dimethyl phthalate ester under aerobic conditions. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 71, 810-818.

Xu XR, Li HB, Gu JD. 2005. Biodegradation of an endocrinedisrupting chemical di-n-butyl phthalate ester by Pseudomonas fluorescens B-1. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation 55, 9-15.

Yang HS, Yoonb JS, Kim MN. 2004. Effects of storage of a mature compost on its potential for biodegradation of plastics. Polymer Degradation and Stability 84, 411-417.

Yüksel O, Hrenović J, Büyükgüngöra H. 2004. Biodegradation of Plastic Compost Bags under Controlled Soil Conditions. Acta Chimica Slovenica 51, 579-588.

Zhang X, MacDonald DA, Goosen MFA, McAuley KB. 1994. Mechanism of lactide polymerization in presence of stannous octoate: the effect of hydroxyl and carboxyl substances. Journal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry 1932, 2965-2970.

Zheng Y, Yanful EK. 2005. A Review of Plastic Waste Biodegradation. Critical Reviews in Biotechnology 25, 243-250.

Zitko V, Hanlon M. 1991. Another source of pollution by plastics: skin cleansers with plastic scrubbers. Marine Pollution Bulletin 22, 41-42.