Title

Nanoplastic and Fungi (Aspergillus & Neurospora)

Faculty Sponsor

Julie Peller and Michael Watters

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Chemistry Department

ORCID Identifier(s)

0000-0003-2195-6952;0000-0002-5513-0975

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-29-2023

Abstract

Synthetic plastics have been around for over 110 years. Since then variations of plastic have risen including, but not limited to, polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP), for many different uses. Invention of polyethylene terephthalate has only been around since 1973, which is used for things such as food storage. Our main focus was single use water bottles. Research has shown that plastics are mostly not biodegradable, but very commonly fragment and erode into smaller pieces, creating microplastics and nanoplastics. This study will test whether fungi, Aspergillus and Neurospora, have the ability to completely decompose water bottle PETE by using it as a carbon food source. Water bottle plastic, PETE, was transformed into a nanoplastic aqueous suspension using a solubilizer, according to the work done in Dr. Peller’s lab. The fungi were then allowed to grow in normal conditions with a dextrose kickstart. After a few days of growth, the nanoplastic suspension was then added to force the fungi to use it for food. After two weeks or so, the Neurospora was healthy suggesting that the organism may be using PETE nanoplastic as a carbon source. Future plans for this experiment include quantifying results to definitively determine the fungi’s plastic uptake.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Maranda Powell is a junior bio-research major with a Chemistry minor on the PA track at Valparaiso University. She is from the south side of Chicago and hopes to attend a PA graduate program following graduation.

Kaylee Huyser is a senior Biology major with Chemistry and Kinesiology minors at Valparaiso University on the pre-medical track.She is from Saint John, Indiana and plans to attend medical school upon graduation.

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