Tools for the biodegradation of o-phtalate, a persistent organic pollutant

Scientists at the CSIC have developed biocatalysts that work as biotech tools for the aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation of o-phtalate (PA), a persistent organic pollutant detected in the environment, and its bioconversion into value-added biodegradable polymers. The invention consists in the generation of recombinant genetic cassettes and bacterial host cells to contain them.

Channeling of PA towards the synthesis of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) by biocatalysts that express the pht cassette.The process transforms the toxic pollutant o-phtalate (a derivate from the degradation and recycling of plastics) into a value-added product, such as PHB bioplastic. “This is the first time bacterial biocatalysts are used to take o-phtalate as a raw material to be revalorized and used in the bioplastics production”, says Eduardo Díaz, researcher at the Margarita Salas Centre for Biological Research (CIB-CSIC).

The invention provides a recombinant genetic cassette (a genetic sequence) that comprehends the catabolic genes involved in the pht pathway, as well as a specific secondary transporter, essential for the microbial degradation of o-phtalate.

The efficiency of the o-phtalate degradation in the developed strains “is almost of the 100% at the end of the growth”, the scientist adds.

This research applies to the microbiology and biotechnology fields to enhance microbial platforms of industrial relevance for the bioremediation of phthalate-polluted environments. Hence, it can be used for plastic recycling and bioplastics synthesis.

Dra. Marta García Del Barrio
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas Margarita Salas
Vicepresidencia Adjunta de Transferencia de Conocimiento del CSIC
Tel.: + 34 – 91 8373112 ext. 4255
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