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Biology Program presents

Fungal Bioremediation of Synthetic Plastic Polymers

Thursday, November 7, 2013

[Fungal Bioremediation of Synthetic Plastic Polymers]
A lecture by
Kaury Kucera
Candidate for the position in Biology

Endophytic fungi, or endophytes, live symbiotically in the inner tissues of plants. The biological diversity of endophytes and the chemical diversity of their natural products are not well described. Endophytes have evolved unique capabilities to live in low nutrient environments, utilize diverse carbon sources for growth and decompose a variety of plant polymers including cellulose, natural rubber and latex. There is a growing body of literature describing the ability of fungi to degrade synthetic polymers. The accumulation of these polymers, in the forms of various plastics and rubbers in the environment is a global concern due in large part to the chemical stability of many synthetic polymers. The mechanisms and metabolic pathways fungi use to break down natural polymers can be harnessed to break down synthetic polymers. Undergraduates in the Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course at Yale University have discovered a fungal enzyme with polyurethane degrading activity. Future work will focus on describing the potential of endophytes to degrade other commercially used plastics and rubbers.

Location: Reem-Kayden Center Lynda and Stewart Resnick Science Laboratories