Biodegradation of Polyethylene by a Soil Bacterium and AlkB Cloned Recombinant Cell | OMICS International | Abstract
ISSN: 2155-6199

Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation
Open Access

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Research Article

Biodegradation of Polyethylene by a Soil Bacterium and AlkB Cloned Recombinant Cell

Moon Gyung Yoon, Hyun Jeong Jeon and Mal Nam Kim*

Department of Life Science, Sangmyung University, Seoul 110-743, Korea

*Corresponding Author:
M. N. Kim
Department of Life Science, Sangmyung University
Seoul 110-743, Korea
Tel: +82-2-2287-5150
Fax: +82-2-2287-0070
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: March 10, 2012; Accepted date: April 13, 2012; Published date: April 15, 2012

Citation: Yoon MG, Jeon HJ, Kim MN (2012) Biodegradation of Polyethylene by a Soil Bacterium and AlkB Cloned Recombinant Cell. J Bioremed Biodegrad 3:145. doi: 10.4172/2155-6199.1000145

Copyright: © 2012 Yoon MG, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


A mesophilic bacterium capable of Low-Molecular-Weight Polyethylene (LMWPE) biodegradation was isolated from a beach soil having been contaminated extensively with crude oil. The isolated strain was rod-shaped gram negative bacterium and was identified as Pseudomonas sp. E4 through the 16S rDNA sequencing. The biodegradability test in the compost inoculated with the isolated strain for LMWPE having weight-average-molecularweight (Mw) in the range of 1,700~23,700 indicated that 4.9~28.6 % of the carbon was mineralized into CO2 after 80 days at 37°C. The biodegradability decreased with increase in Mw of LMWPE. In comparison to other previous works which reported biodegradation of pre-oxidized polyethylene, we investigated biodegradation of non-oxidized LMWPE whose Mw was well above the Mw upper limit penetrable through microbial membrane. The smooth surface of LMWPE sheet became eroded as a result of the biodegradation, and the degree of the surface erosion became more pronounced for LMWPE with lower molecular weight in line with the biodegradability test results. The alkane hydroxylase gene (alkB) of Pseudomonas sp. E4 was expressed in Escherichia coli BL21 and the recombinant E. coli BL21 mineralized 19.3% of the carbon of LMWPE into CO2 during the biodegradation in the compost at 37°C for 80 days, while the recipient cell was not active at all toward the LMWPE biodegradation, indicating that the alkB from Pseudomonas sp. E4 plays a central role in the LMWPE degradation even in the absence of the other specific enzymes like rubredoxin and rubredoxin reductase.