Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2015 Jul 6;10(7):e0131773. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131773. eCollection 2015.

Potential of Wood-Rotting Fungi to Attack Polystyrene Sulfonate and Its Depolymerisation by Gloeophyllum trabeum via Hydroquinone-Driven Fenton Chemistry.

Author information

Department Environmental Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.
Department Analytical Chemistry, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.


Synthetic polymers often pose environmental hazards due to low biodegradation rates and resulting accumulation. In this study, a selection of wood-rotting fungi representing different lignocellulose decay types was screened for oxidative biodegradation of the polymer polystyrene sulfonate (PSS). Brown-rot basidiomycetes showed PSS depolymerisation of up to 50 % reduction in number-average molecular mass (Mn) within 20 days. In-depth investigations with the most efficient depolymeriser, a Gloeophyllum trabeum strain, pointed at extracellular hydroquinone-driven Fenton chemistry responsible for depolymerisation. Detection of hydroxyl radicals present in the culture supernatants showed good compliance with depolymerisation over the time course of PSS degradation. 2,5-Dimethoxy-1,4-hydroquinone (2,5-DMHQ), which was detected in supernatants of active cultures via liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, was demonstrated to drive the Fenton processes in G. trabeum cultures. Up to 80% reduction in Mn of PSS where observed when fungal cultures were additionally supplemented with 2,5-dimethoxy benzoquinone, the oxidized from of 2,5-DMHQ. Furthermore, 2,5-DMHQ could initiate the Fenton's reagent-mediated PSS depolymerisation in cell-free systems. In contrast, white-rot fungi were unable to cause substantial depolymerising effects despite the expression of lignin-modifying exo-enzymes. Detailed investigations with laccase from Trametes versicolor revealed that only in presence of certain redox mediators limited PSS depolymerisation occurred. Our results indicate that brown-rot fungi might be suitable organisms for the biodegradation of recalcitrant synthetic polymeric pollutants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center