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Journal of Applied Microbiology
108, No. 6, 2010; Pages: 1946 - 53

Isolation and characterization of an ether-type polyurethane-degrading micro-organism and analysis of degradation mechanism by Alternaria sp

Matsumiya Y, Murata N, Tanabe E, Kubota K, Kubo M

Department of Bioscience and Technology, College of Life Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Kusatsu, Shiga, Japan.


Aims: To degrade ether-type polyurethane (ether-PUR), ether-PUR-degrading micro-organism was isolated. Moreover, ether-PUR-degrading mechanisms were analysed using model compounds of ether-PUR.

Methods and Results: A fungus designated as strain PURDK2, capable of changing the configuration of ether-PUR, has been isolated. This isolated fungus was identified as Alternaria sp. Using a scanning electron microscope, the grid structure of ether-PUR was shown to be melted and disrupted by the fungus. The degradation of ether-PUR by the fungus was analysed, and the ether-PUR was degraded by the fungus by about 27.5%. To analyse the urethane-bond degradation by the fungus, a degraded product of ethylphenylcarbamate was analysed using GC/MS. Aniline and ethanol were detected by degradation with the supernatant, indicating that the fungus secreted urethane-bond-degrading enzyme(s). PURDK2 also degraded urea bonds when diphenylmethane-4,4'-dibutylurea was used as a substrate.

Conclusions: The enzyme(s) from PURDK2 degraded urethane and urea bonds to convert the high molecular weight structure of ether-PUR to small molecules; and then the fungus seems to use the small molecules as an energy source.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Ether-PUR-degrading fungus, strain PURDK2, was isolated, and the urethane- and urea-bonds-degrading enzymes from strain PURDK2 could contribute to the material recycling of ether-PUR.

Keywords:ether-type polyurethane,ethylphenylcarbamate,electron microscope, the grid structure of ether-PUR.


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