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Ida Elisabeth Berggreen

Cellular lipids and protein alteration during biodegradation of expanded polystyrene by mealworm larvae under different feeding conditions

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The present study reports the biodegradation of polystyrene (PS) by mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) following different feeding regimes. Changes in lipids and protein were studied to evaluate possible differences in the growth and metabolic pathways of the insects depending on the diets. Thermo-gravimetric analysis of the excretions (frass) revealed a decrease in the molecular mass of the PS polymers. The insects' biomass contained less protein when PS was part of the diet, suggesting that the insects undergo a certain level of stress compared to control diets. The frass also contained lower amount of nitrogen content compared to that from insects fed a control diet. NH4+ and other cations involved in biochemical processes were also measured in insects’ frass, including potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, combined with a small pH change. The decrease in the mineral content of the frass was attributed to increased cellular activity in PS-fed insects. A higher amount of ceramides and cardiolipins, biomarkers of apoptosis, were also found in association with PS consumption. It was concluded that the insects could metabolize PS, but this caused an increase in its stress levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134420
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Biodegradation of polystyrene, Lipidomics, Molecular and cellular activity, Protein alterations, UHPLC-QTOF-MS, Yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor)

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