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Polystyrene biodegradation by Tenebrio molitor larvae: Identification of generated substances using a gc-ms untargeted screening method

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  • Emmanouil Tsochatzis
  • ,
  • Joao Alberto Lopes, European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute
  • ,
  • Helen Gika, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • ,
  • Georgios Theodoridis, European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute

A GC-MS method has been applied to screen and evaluate the generation of chemical compounds during the biodegradation of polystyrene (PS) with Tenebrio molitor larvae. Several resulting compounds have been identified, including trimers 2,4,6-triphenyl-1-hexene and 1,3,5-triphenylcyclohexane, the volatiles acetophenone and cumyl alcohol, and 2,4-di-tert butylphenol, a non-intentionally added substance (NIAS) present in the plastic material. The PS monomers styrene and α-methyl styrene were also identified in the extracts. Bioactive molecules present in the biomass of the studied insects were identified, such as the free fatty acids myristic, palmitic, and oleic acid. Undecanoic acid was also found, but in lower mass fractions. Finally, biochemically formatted amides resulting from their respective fatty acids were identified, namely tetradecanamide, hexadecanamide and oleamide. The formation of all these substances seems to suggest enzymatic and biochemical activity occurring during the biodegradation of PS, and their amounts varied throughout the experience. The overall degradation rate of PS resulted in a 13% rate, which highlights the potential of biorecycling using these insects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Chemical compounds formed during bio-degradation, GC-MS analysis, Insects assisted biodegradation of polystyrene, Plastics biodegradation and biorecycling

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