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Methods in Enzymology
Volume 648, 2021, Pages 423-434

Screening and cultivating microbial strains able to grow on building blocks of polyurethane

María JoséCárdenas Espinosa, Andrea Colina Blanco, Hermann J.Heipieper, Christian Eberlein

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZ, Department of Environmental Biotechnology, Leipzig, Germany.


The diverse benefits of synthetic polymers is overshadowed by the amount of plastic waste and its whereabouts. The problem can only be tackled by reducing and recycling of plastics. In this respect, investigating the (microbial) degradation of each type of polymer currently used may provide further understanding that fosters the development of new feasible recycling technologies. Here, we present a strategy to isolate bacteria from environmental samples that are able to degrade hydrolysis products and building blocks of polyurethane (PUR). Protocols are presented to enrich bacteria on the primary diamines 2,4-diaminotoluene (TDA) and 4,4′-diaminodiphenylmethane (MDA) as well as an oligomeric PUR (Sigma Aldrich, proprietary composition). For TDA and the oligomeric PUR, methods are suggested to monitor their concentration in bacterial enrichment cultures.

Keywords: Polyurethane, PU building blocks, Biodegradation, TDA, MDA, Isolation of bacteria.

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