Front Microbiol. 2022 Jun 14;13:874842. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.874842. eCollection 2022.
Polyester urethanes (PUR) are widely used in industries and have led to a worldwide plastic waste problem. Thus, novel solutions for PUR degradation are required to reduce environmental pollution. This work investigates the PUR biodegradation efficiency of 33 fungal species using a polyester-polyurethane colloid branded Impranil DLN (Impranil) compared to Aspergillus niger, which served as the positive control. The biodegradation is evaluated based on its ability to clear Impranil in media. Eleven fungi can clear Impranil in both solid- and liquid-medium assays. The highest degradation was attributed to Embarria clematidis cultured with Impranil as a carbon source. The degradation was confirmed by the Sturm test, Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). From the Sturm test, CO2 at a concentration of 0.85 g/L was found in E. clematidis cultured with 150 mL of Impranil solution after a 2-week incubation period while the CO2 at a concentration of 0.53 g/L was detected from A. niger in the same conditions. The biodegradation was further confirmed by evaluating the clearance percentage of supernatant of E. clematidis and A. niger culturing with Impranil from the Sturm test. The clearance percentage of E. clematidis and A. niger supernatant was 88.84 and 48.97%, respectively. Moreover, the degradation of soft segment and breakdown of ester linkages were observed, as evidenced by the decrease of the carbonyl (1,715 cm-1) and N-H stretching (1,340 cm-1 and 1,020 cm-1) FTIR spectral peaks, respectively. GC-MS detected 3Z-heptenol, 5Z-octenol, 2E,4E-hexadienol acetate, and 3E,6Z-nonadienol as degradation products from the E. clematidis culture supernatant. This fungus was screened for its ability to produce extracellular esterase, protease, and urease enzymes. Extracellular esterase, very low urease, and no protease activities were detected in the culture supernatant of E. clematidis in the presence of Impranil. E. clematidis can degrade Impranil partially via hydrolysis of ester linkages by cell-bound esterases at a considerable rate without any prior treatment. This fungus not only degraded Impranil but also mineralized them into CO2 and H2O. E. clematidis can be applied in the process of biochemical depolymerization of PUR for the pure monomers recycling.