Low density polyethylene degradation by filamentous fungi

Federica Spina, Maria Laura Tummino, Anna Poli, Valeria Prigione, Viktoria Ilieva, Piersandro Cocconcelli, Edoardo Puglisi, Pierangiola Bracco, Marco Zanetti, Giovanna Cristina Varese. Environmental Pollution.

Topic: filamentous fungi, plastic polymers, biodegradation, SEM and FT-IT analysis

Polyethylene (PE) is the most abundant non-degradable plastic waste, posing a constant and serious threat to the whole ecosystem. In the present study, the fungal community of plastic wastes contaminating a landfill soil has been studied. After 6 months of enrichment, 95 fungi were isolated, mostly belonging to the Ascomycota phylum. They were screened under in vitro condition: most of the fungi (97%) were capable of growing in the presence of PE powder (5-10 g L-1) as sole carbon source. Fusarium strains better tolerated high concentration of PE. Up to 13 strains were chosen for further degradation trails, where the process was monitored by respirometry tests and by observing changes in PE chemical and physical structure by FTIR analysis and SEM images. Major results were observed for Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium falciforme and Purpureocillum lilacinum, as they caused strong oxidation phenomena and changes in the PE film morphology. Results suggested that the initial oxidation mechanisms targeted first the methyl terminal groups. Changes in the infrared spectra were strongly strain-dependent, denoting the activation of different degradation pathways. Through the SEM analysis, the actual damages provoked by fungi were observed, including swellings, pits and furrows, bumps and partial exfoliations. Considering the rising concern about plastic disposal worldwide, the ability of these fungi to colonize PE and utilize it as carbon source is of great interest, as no pretreatments and pro-oxidant stimulants were needed.

A special thanks to JRU MIRRI-IT for the technical and scientific support. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from Fondazione CRT, under the “Erogazioni ordinarie 2019” Project 2019.0471. The work of EP and PSC was supported by Fondazione Cariplo, project 2014-0465 “Gaining insights in the microbial degradation of polyethylene plastics to promote efficient bioremediation strategies”.

Find the article here: DOI –  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.116548

Publisher: University of Torino, Italy

IS_MIRRI21 launches the first Transnational Access (TNA) call on 25 January 2021

The first call under the Transnational Access programme of IS_MIRRI21 will soon be launched from 25 January 2021 until 16 April 2020. The TNA programme is an initiative to promote transnational cooperation and mobility of researchers throughout pan-European research infrastructures. IS_MIRRI21 TNA programme aims to financially and logistically support access to top-class Microbial Resource Research Infrastructures across Europe.

This call for proposals invites users from research organisations and companies (in the fields of biotechnology, agro-food, pharmaceuticals, environment, etc.) to apply for funded access to one or several of the 14 IS_MIRRI21 partners’ facilities across Europe. The TNA offers on-site and remote access to a wide variety of microbial resources and facilities to conduct scientific studies. The TNA online portal is now available with full details on the eligibility, access providers, submission and reporting rules and guides, and more. Applicants are required to contact the access officer (tna@mirri.org) for pre-feasibility evaluation of their projects prior to the submission of the proposal. Prospective participants can find the handbook for application in our TNA Application Guidelines available online.

Visit our TNA Catalogue to find the best fit services, products and facilities to your needs.   

For more information, visit the TNA PORTAL here: https://ismirri21.mirri.org/project-platforms/tna/

Publisher: Institut Pasteur

MIRRI Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for 2021-2030

The Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI) is a pan-European distributed research infrastructure for the preservation, systematic investigation, provision and valorisation of microbial resources and biodiversity. It brings together 50+ microbial domain Biological Resource Centres (mBRCs), culture collections and research institutes from ten European countries and one associated country.

MIRRI serves the bioscience and the bioindustry communities by facilitating the access, through a single point, to the broadest range of high-quality microorganisms, their derivatives, associated data and services, with a special focus on the domains of Health & Food, Agro-Food, and Environment & Energy. By serving its users, by collaborating with other research infrastructures and by working with public authorities and policy makers, MIRRI contributes to the advancement of research and innovation in life sciences and biotechnology, as well as for a sustainable, competitive and resilient bioeconomy.

This year marks a great accomplishment for MIRRI!

On 25 March 2021, MIRRI disclosed its “Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda 2021-2030”. Under the motto “Microbial resources for a green, healthy and sustainable future”, the Agenda intends to anticipate major trends and opportunities for the valorisation of microbial resources (i.e., microorganisms/microbes and their derivatives) for the sustainable development of society and the economy.

According to the Executive Director of MIRRI, Luís Soares, “the new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda reveals MIRRI’s Vision to boost the use of microbial resources by the scientific community and bioindustries, until the end of this decade, in response to some of the greatest societal, environmental and economic challenges that Europe and the World will face, such as those related to the circular economy, human and planetary health, food security and safety, climate transition, decarbonisation or biodiversity”, adding that “MIRRI’s Strategic Agenda can serve as an inspiration for governmental authorities and for other agents of society and the economy in defining policies, programmes and initiatives that can lead to a more sustainable development”.

MIRRI’s Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda 2021-2030 is available for download at www.mirri.org.

Keep up with new updates from MIRRI through its LinkedIn page!

Publisher: IS_MIRRI21 communication team

Scientific day on Microbiota and Microbiome

IS_MIRRI21 partner, INRAE-CIRM participated in the Microbiota Day organised by RaRe (French Infrastructure for Research in Agronomic Resources). This scientific meeting was devoted to numerous presentations on methods for the conservation and characterisation of microbiotes from different biotopes (e.g. human, plants, environment, animals). MIRRI and IS_MIRRI21 were represented by the members of the CIRM who presented the objectives of IS_MIRRI21 in the implementation of MIRRI-ERIC. Following numerous questions from the audience (more than a hundred researchers in the field of microbiota studies), they also discussed the role that MIRRI and IS_MIRRI21 could play in facilitating research on the microbiota, and in particular on the conservation and distribution aspects that will shape the 21st century microbiology and its applications in all fields from human health to agronomy.

Publisher: Partners: INRAE-CIRM

IS_MIRRI21 and MIRRI were represented by partners at the EU-CELAC RI Cooperation Workshop held on 03.11.2020

MIRRI and IS_MIRRI21 participated in one of the series of workshops hosted by the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Working Group on Research Infrastructures (EU-LAC RI). MIRRI is a European research infrastructure that envisions synergies and collaboration with other research infrastructure beyond Europe. In this workshop, the partners of IS_MIRRI21 and 32 other RIs from Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, France, Belgium and many more countries addressed the issue of ‘Food Security’. The participants had a short window to concisely present their research infrastructures and explain what they are looking for and what they can offer others. The brief introductions were followed by rich and insightful discussions of possibilities for future EU-LAC cooperation guided by preset questions from the organisers.

Publisher: IS_MIRRI21 Communications Team

Conclusion of the first online workshop ‘Implementation and Sustainability of Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure for the 21st Century’ from IAFB held on 23.10.2020

Workshop presenters
Polish IT support team

Pictures from left to right – Marleen Bosschaerts, Joanna Bucka-Kolendo and Artur Hugo Swiergiel, Rosa Aznar, Nelson Lima, Vincent Robert and Alexander Wasilenko.

IT support team from left to right – Greg Adach, Marcin Sokolowski.

The IS_MIRRI21’s Partner Institute of Agricultural Food Biotechnology prof. Waclaw Dabrowski located in Warsaw (IAFB) organised and broadcasted the first workshop in the forthcoming series of workshops. The workshop titled ‘Implementation and Sustainability of Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure for the 21st Century’, was addressed to Culture Collection partners from a variety of fields to integrate them as Potential Partners for the pan-European RI, MIRRI. A total of 64 participants were connected with us during the workshop. Artur Hugo Swiergiel, the Director of Institute and Leader of WP8, opened the workshop and introduced the known microbial resources and the activities of IAFB in IS_MIRRI21. The Belgian Coordinator of Culture Organisms- Marleen Bosscharets, presented a topic about the structure and history of MIRRI as well as how the position of MIRRI looks in the Research Infrastructure landscape. Furthermore, Marleen shared knowledge about the activities and mission of MIRRI-ERIC as a European Research Infrastructure. Thereafter, the project coordinator, Nelson Lima, introduced the goals and services of IS_MIRRI21 and explained how to be a member and observer in the project. Rosa Aznar, who is a coordinator of Spanish Type Culture from Valencia, and Vincent Robert who is a Leader of the informatics group from Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute from Netherlands discussed about multifunctional virtual platform. We also had the opportunity to hear first-hand experiences from Alexander Vasilenko, a representative of the All-Russian Collection of Micro-organisms from Russian Federation Partner.

We would like to thank again all participants and partners for joining us. Soon, the WP8 team from IAFB will organise a workshop for stakeholders from other countries who are not involved in the IS_MIRRI21 project.

Publisher: Kamila Daniluk, Microbiologist from Institute of Agricultural Food Biotechnology prof. Waclaw Dabrowski

IS_MIRRI21 Workshop in Poland | 23 OCT

As IS_MIRRI21’s partner, the Institute of Agriculture and Food Biotechnology will host an event in Warsaw, Poland on 23 October 2020 with the aim of enlarging MIRRI’s partnerships. The workshop will be the first in a series which will take place under WP8. The invitees of the workshop include new potential partners from Polish Culture Collections (which covers different environment niches – e.g. medical and industrial), as well as Polish government representatives and policy makers. The purpose of the workshop is to strengthen MIRRI’s partnerships at a national level through the integration of a greater number of Culture Collections and obtaining higher biodiversity of microbiological resources.

Registration is mandatory but free. Participants can register here until 22 October 2020. For more information, contact Joanna Bucka-Kolendo and Kamila Daniluk at kkp@ibprs.pl.


Publisher: Institute of Agriculture and Food Biotechnology

Presentation of IS_MIRRI21 at the 5th General Assembly of RARe: the French National Infrastructure for Biological Resources of Agronomical Interest

The International Centre of Microbial Resources, CIRM (France) participated at the 5th General Assembly of the RaRe research infrastructure as a member of IS_MIRRI21’s consortium. The meeting took place on the 29th and 30th of September 2020. RaRe brings together five networks of BRCs (Biological Resource Centres) that aims to maintain and distribute biological resources of animals, microorganisms, forests, plants and environmental sources. In his talk, Michel-Yves Mistou, the coordinator of INRAE-CIRM, presented IS_MIRRI21, highlighting its main objectives, the role of CIRM in the project and the project partners.


Publisher: Marwa Zaarour/Scientific project officer – IS_MIRRI21 project at INRAE-CIRM

IS_MIRRI21 engages with citizens and stakeholders at the Science is Wonderful 2020 virtual event

IS_MIRRI21 won a place to join 39 other international projects to engage children, citizens and stakeholders at the Science is Wonderful online 2020 event from 22-24 September. As part of the European Research and Innovation Days, IS_MIRRI21 aimed to encourage and contribute to science communication and education of publics, with a special focus on citizens and stakeholders. As part of its objective to improve scientific knowledge and hard-core skills among its various stakeholders, the project partners – Universidad do Minho, Institut Pasteur, Universita Degli Studi Di Torino and Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação, came together to develop an educational video entitled ‘Superbugs and amazing microbes’ about microorganisms and their effects on humans and the environment. IS_MIRRI21 held nine live presentations via Zoom which were accessible through the virtual booth of IS_MIRRI21 on the platform of the Science is Wonderful. Throughout the three days of the event, the partners and collaborators of IS_MIRRI21 conversed with many target audiences about the project’s vision and activities from the stance of the virtual booth. The event showed great level of creativity and encouragement toward public engagement and science education! As a European project with the aim of driving scientific progress internationally, IS_MIRRI21 looks forward to contributing to science communication and education of publics in the successive events with such foundation!       

Publisher: IS_MIRRI21 communications team

The first IS_MIRRI21 workshop “TNA: guidelines and procedures” took place on 21st and 22nd September 2020

The IS_MIRRI21 partner, Institut Pasteur (IP), organised and broadcasted this workshop to communicate to Liaison Officers and other IS_MIRRI21 members, the policies and procedures needed for the implementation of the Transnational Access pilot programme in the two calls planned for 2021 and 2022. A total of 40 people were connected during the 2 days of the workshop. The discussion focused on the guidelines and documents generated by the Access Officer, Liliana Avila-Ospina from Institut Pasteur and the activities coordinated by WP4, WP2 and WP7 such as the design of the TNA workflows, communication activities and creation of the TNA online portal. We also had the opportunity to learn first-hand experiences about the management of TNA programmes and RI access platforms from our collaborators Ana Helman – CatRIS and Davide DiCioccio – EMBRC-ERIC. A special session to discuss the challenges related to the TNA costs involved the participation of Maëlle Pichard and Valeria Martin from the IP grant office.

Publisher: Mery Piña/Deputy director of the CRBIP and Liliana Avila-Ospina/Access officer – IS_MIRRI21 project at the Institut Pasteur.