Journal article Open Access

Biodegradation of polyurethane by the microbial consortia enriched from landfill

Tianyuan, Su; Tong, Zhang; Pan, Liu; Junling, Bian; Yi, Zheng; Yingbo, Yuan; Qingbin, Li; Quanfeng, Liang; Qingsheng, Qi

Polyurethanes (PU) are one of the most used categories of plastics and have become a significant source of environmental pollutants. Degrading the refractory PU wastes using environmentally friendly strategies is in high demand. In this study, three microbial consortia from the landfill leachate were enriched using PU powder as the sole carbon source. The consortia efficiently degraded polyester PU film and accumulated high biomass within 1 week. Scanning electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and contact angle analyses showed significant physical and chemical changes to the PU film after incubating with the consortia for 48 h. In addition, the degradation products adipic acid and butanediol were detected by high-performance liquid chromatography in the supernatant of the consortia. Microbial composition and extracellular enzyme analyses revealed that the consortia can secrete esterase and urease, which were potentially involved in the degradation of PU. The dominant microbes in the consortia changed when continuously passaged for 50 generations of growth on the PU films. This work demonstrates the potential use of microbial consortia in the biodegradation of PU wastes.

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