Sustainable Utilization of Fungi in Agriculture and Industry

Biodegradation of Plastic by Fungi

Author(s): Dibyajit Lahiri, Moupriya Nag, Sougata Ghosh and Rina Rani Ray *

Pp: 384-401 (18)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815040340122040024

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Plastic is considered to be one of the most used polymers in industries,
agriculture, packaging, and household matters. The indiscriminate use and extensive
accumulation of plastic wastes in our environment due to the unidirectional use of
synthetic polymers without their proper degradation has posed a potent global threat to
the environment. The environmental contamination has resulted in urgency for
developing new strategies for degrading plastics. In recent years, reports on the
biodegradation of synthetic plastics by microorganisms or microbial enzymes have
sprung up, and these offer a possibility to develop biological treatment technology for
plastic wastes. The unique ability of fungi to invade the polymer substrates with the
help of enzymes has attracted the attention of researchers. Moreover, fungi produce a
chemical substance termed hydrophobin, which helps in the fungal adhesion to the
hydrophobic surface, followed by the penetration of the hyphae into the surface of the
substrate. Various fungal species comprising Aspergillusniger, Aspergillusflavus,
Fusariumlini, Pycnoporuscinnabarinus, and Mucorrouxiiare are predominantly used
for the process of plastic degradation. This chapter will focus on the contribution of
various fungal strains in the degradation of macro and microplastics, including
synthetic, biodegradable, and oxo-biodegradable plastics, with a special reference to
the analytical techniques used for their assessment.

Keywords: Enzymatic biodegradation, Health hazards, Plastics, Remediation, Wastes.

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