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Biodegradation of Polyethylene and Polystyrene by Greater Wax Moth Larvae (Galleria mellonella L.) and the Effect of Co-diet Supplementation on the Core Gut Microbiome

  • Yu Lou
    Yu Lou
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
    More by Yu Lou
  • Pererva Ekaterina
    Pererva Ekaterina
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
  • Shan-Shan Yang
    Shan-Shan Yang
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
  • Baiyun Lu
    Baiyun Lu
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
    More by Baiyun Lu
  • Bingfeng Liu
    Bingfeng Liu
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
    More by Bingfeng Liu
  • Nanqi Ren
    Nanqi Ren
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
    More by Nanqi Ren
  • Philippe F.-X. Corvini
    Philippe F.-X. Corvini
    Institute for Ecopreneurship, School of Life Sciences, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Gründenstrasse 40, Muttenz CH-4132, Switzerland
  • , and 
  • Defeng Xing*
    Defeng Xing
    State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, School of Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
    *E-mail: [email protected]
    More by Defeng Xing
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54, 5, 2821–2831
Publication Date (Web):February 3, 2020
Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract Image

    Plastics waste and microplastics including polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) have been an environmental concern for years. Recent research has revealed that larvae of Galleria mellonella are capable of biodegrading low density PE film. In this study, we tested the feasibility of enhancing larval survival and the effect of supplementing the co-diet on plastic degradation by feeding the larvae beeswax or wheat bran as a co-diet. Significant mass loss of plastic was observed over a 21-day period, i.e., with respective consumption of 0.88 and 1.95 g by 150 larvae fed only either PS or PE. The formation of C═O and C–O containing functional groups and long chain fatty acids as the metabolic intermediates of plastics in the residual polymers indicated depolymerization and biodegradation. Supplementing beeswax and bran increased the survival rates but decreased the consumption of plastic. The changes in the gut microbiome revealed that Bacillus and Serratia were significantly associated with the PS and PE diets. Beeswax and bran showed different shaping effects on the core gut microbiome of larvae fed the PE and PS. These results suggest that supplementing the co-diet affected the physiological properties of the larvae and plastic biodegradation and shaped the core gut microbiome.

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