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Trends in Biotechnology

Enzyme discovery and engineering for sustainable plastic recycling

Baotong Zhu1, Dong Wang2, Na Wei1

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 156 Fitzpatrick Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


The drastically increasing amount of plastic waste is causing an environmental crisis that requires innovative technologies for recycling post-consumer plastics to achieve waste valorization while meeting environmental quality goals. Biocatalytic depolymerization mediated by enzymes has emerged as an efficient and sustainable alternative for plastic treatment and recycling. A variety of plastic-degrading enzymes have been discovered from microbial sources. Meanwhile, protein engineering has been exploited to modify and optimize plastic-degrading enzymes. This review highlights the recent trends and up-to-date advances in mining novel plastic-degrading enzymes through state-of-the-art omics-based techniques and improving the enzyme catalytic efficiency and stability via various protein engineering strategies. Future research prospects and challenges are also discussed.

Keywords: biocatalysis, plastic depolymerization, omics-based techniques, protein engineering, plastic-degrading enzymes, sustainable plastic recycling.

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