Technical University of Crete, Greece

Nicolas Kalogerakis is currently a Professor of Biochemical Engineering and was Vice-President of the University Council (2013-2017) at the Technical University of Crete. Prior to that he was a Professor at SUNY-Buffalo (USA)...

and at the Univ. of Calgary (Canada). He holds a Diploma in Chemical Engineering from NTUA (Athens), a Masters from McGill University and a PhD from the Univ. of Toronto. His area of expertise includes environmental biotechnology focusing on bioremediation and phytoremediation technologies for the restoration of contaminated sites; protection and restoration of the marine environment. Currently his group is participating in 3 EU funded research projects and he was the coordinator of the FP7-project KILL*SPILL. Prof. Kalogerakis’ publication record includes four patents, one book, 175 papers in referred journals and more than 150 presentations at international conferences. He has > 6800 citations (Scopus) with a H-index of 43. He has served as a member of the EC Environment Committee, as sherpa in the EC, High Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies (2013-2015) and member of the EC Committee on Prize Development for Marine Litter.

 

Abstract


BIODEGRADATION OF SECONDARY MICROPLASTICS AND NANOPLASTICS IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT

Nicolas Kalogerakis1,*, Evdokia Syranidou1, Ning-Yi Zhou2, Phillipe F-X Corvini3, Fabio Fava4

1School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania, Greece

2State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China

3School of Life Sciences, Institute of Ecopreneurship, FHNW, Muttenz, Switzerland

4DICAM, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Plastic debris in the marine environment represents a serious environmental problem worldwide. Abiotic and biotic processes in seawater and on the shoreline can cause the polymeric chains to degrade and the plastic items to fragment into smaller ones called secondary microplastics. The fragmentation of plastics has been studied in marine and land conditions, although due to the complexity of interactions among a large number of factors, such as material and matrix properties, temperature, radiation, oxygen levels and mechanical stress, they are hard to be emulated effectively in the lab. Even in the few existing studies, the results are varying and in many cases contradictory. Changes in structure and mechanical properties have been repeatedly reported.

In the present work, the potential for biodegradation of two indigenous marine communities on secondary microplastics produced by the combined effect of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and mild mechanical stress on thin HDPE (high density polyethylene films). Weight loss measurements were used for the determination of polymer degradation, while the colonization process was monitored through EPS (protein and carbohydrates) measurements, viable cell concentration and abundance of alkB gene. The results were supplemented with FTIR and molecular weight distribution measurements as a function of time. We have recently shown that these communities were also capable to degrade efficiently naturally weathered HDPE films. In addition, the generation of nanoplastics during the biodegradation of secondary microplastics has been observed and quantified. The fate of the generated nanoparticles has been also investigated in seawater microcosms


 

  1. Karkanorachaki K, Kiparissis S, Kalogerakis GC, Yiantzi E, Psillakis E, Kalogerakis N, “Plastic pellets, meso- and microplastics on the coastline of Northern Crete: Distribution and organic pollution”, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 133, 578–589 (2018).
  2. Syranidou E, Karkanorachaki K, Amorotti F, Franchini M, Repouskou E, Kaliva M, Vamvakaki M, Kolvenbach B, Fava F, Corvini PF-X, Kalogerakis N. “Biodegradation of weathered polystyrene films in seawater microcosms”, Scientific Reports, 7:17991 (2017)
  3. Syranidou E, Karkanorachaki K, Amorotti F, Repouskou E, Kroll K, Kolvenbach B, Corvini PF-X, Fava F, Kalogerakis N. “Development of tailored indigenous marine consortia for the degradation of naturally weathered polyethylene films”, PLoS ONE 12(8): e0183984 (2017).