FURI | Spring 2023
Depolymerization of PET Plastics Using Engineered Bacterium
Accumulation of plastic waste in oceans and landfills increasingly threatens marine, animal, and human life due to fragmentation into microplastics. It is estimated that 359 million tons of plastic is produced annually, half of which accrues in landfills. A substantial portion of this plastic is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Plasmid constructs have been developed for the expression of PET-hydrolyzing enzymes and the toxicity threshold of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, by-products of PET depolymerization, have been determined for the wild-type strain. In situ PET depolymerization was performed using the engineered bacteria, resulting in successful deconstruction into monomeric units.
Haley Nicole McKeown
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Graduation date: Spring 2023