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Bioprospecting for plastic-degrading enzymes from landfill

Principal Supervisor: Dr Lucy Crouch

Secondary Supervisor(s): Professor James McDonald

University of Registration: University of Birmingham

BBSRC Research Themes:

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Deadline: 4 January, 2024

Project Outline

Plastic waste is a huge problem for most environments on Earth. This not only includes large collections of different plastics accumulating in different locations, such as landfills and Oceans, but also includes microplastics that are now understood to be infiltrating many different organisms and food chains. This alarming impact of human activity requires innovative solutions. We have recently isolated several bacterial strains from landfill leachate enrichment cultures containing different common plastics. The next stages of this project will be to sequence the genomes of the isolated bacteria, characterise their phenotype and ability to degrade plastics, collect gene upregulation data for growth on plastics, and characterise recombinant enzyme candidates for plastic biodegradation. There is also scope to generate new enrichment cultures form environmental samples for the targeted isolation of putative plastic-degrading bacteria.


  • Microbiology
  • Enzymology
  • Crystallography
  • Enzyme product detection
  • Exploring