MetaPlast: Exploiting microbial dark matter for engineering plastic degradation microbial system
Research Project, 2020 – 2023

Plastics are widely incorporated into nearly all consumer products, and their end life represents a tremendous environmental problem. Biological degradation is a sustainable and promising solution for degradation and utilization of mixtures of currently non-degradable plastics. Finding microorganism capable to utilize plastics is a very challenging task and current methods are mostly limited to isolating microbes from plastic garbage piles and testing them in the lab. However, 99.9% of known microbe species considered unculturable, often called "microbial dark matter", making traditional approach practically not applicable for a problem size. The whole intuition behind the proposed work is to use novel artificial intelligence framework to computationally search for "plastic degradation and assimilation like DNA" in thousands of environmental samples from diverse habitats around the globe. Then using synthetic biology, protein engineering, adaptive evolution experiments and computational biology methods, we will design microbial communities with enhanced plastic utilization that are capable of degrading complex plastic mixtures from waste. The proposed interdisciplinary project for the first time in a single study will systematically explore the potential of all known biological matter to utilize plastics for production of socioeconomically valuable chemicals.


Aleksej Zelezniak (contact)

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Systems and Synthetic Biology



Project ID: 2019-01403
Funding Chalmers participation during 2020–2023


More information

Latest update