1887

Abstract

Gutta percha, the -isomer of polyisoprene, is being used for several technical applications due to its resistance to biological degradation. In the past, several attempts to isolate micro-organisms capable of degrading chemically pure poly(-1,4-isoprene) have failed. This is the first report on axenic cultures of bacteria capable of degrading gutta percha. From about 100 different habitats and enrichment cultures, six bacterial strains were isolated which utilize synthetic poly(-1,4-isoprene) as sole carbon and energy source for growth. All isolates were assigned to the genus based on 16S rRNA gene sequences. Four isolates were identified as strains of (L1b, SH22a, SEI2b and SEII5a), one isolate was identified as a strain of (SM1) and the other as a strain of (WE30). In addition, the type strain of obtained from a culture collection (DSM 44801) was shown to degrade poly(-1,4-isoprene). Degradation of poly(-1,4-isoprene) by these seven strains was verified in mineralization experiments by determining the release of CO. All seven strains were also capable of mineralizing poly(-1,4-isoprene) and to use this polyisoprenoid as a carbon and energy source for growth. Mineralization of poly(-1,4-isoprene) after 80 days varied from 3 % (strain SM1) to 54 % (strain SEI2b) and from 34 % (strain L1b) to 43 % (strain SH22a) for the -isomer after 78 days. In contrast, strain VH2, which was previously isolated as a potent poly(-1,4-isoprene)-degrading bacterium, was unable to degrade poly(-1,4-isoprene). Scanning electron microscopy revealed cavities in solid materials prepared from poly(-1,4-isoprene) and also from poly(-1,4-isoprene) after incubation with strain WE30 or with strain L1b, whereas solid poly(-1,4-isoprene) material remained unaffected if incubated with strain VH2 or under sterile conditions.

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2007-02-01
2019-11-20
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