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Polyethylene terephthalate is a commonly used plastic that is not easily degradable in the environment. The purpose of this project is to isolate thermophilic microbes that can degrade cutin and other degradation products of polyethylene terephthalate. Cutin is a polymer similar in structure to polyethylene terephthalate. In this initiative, compost samples are taken from the Ursinus College organic farm. The compost will be put in sterile saline to suspend any bacteria. These compost samples and the purified cutin will then be put in various enrichment cultures, which is essentially a broth medium with nutrients. These samples are incubated at 60 ℃ for an extended period. Samples of the enrichment cultures will be taken periodically either from the liquid suspension or the actual cutin fibers. From these samples, total genomic DNA is extracted and a PCR amplification of the universal 16s rRNA gene is performed for the purpose of identification.
Beckman, Samantha, "Analyzing the Breakdown of Cutin and PET via Thermophilic and Mesophilic Enrichment Cultures" (2022). Biology Summer Fellows. 91.
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