Lensless digital holographic microscopy as an efficient method to monitor enzymatic plastic degradation

Schnitzler, L. and Zarzycki, J. and Gerhard, M. and Konde, S. and Rexer, K.-H. and Erb, T.J. and Maier, U.G. and Koch, M. and Hofmann, M.R. and Moog, D.

Volume: 163 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111950
Published: 2021

A big challenge of the 21st century is to cope with the huge amounts of plastic waste on Earth. Especially the oceans are heavily polluted with plastics. To counteract this issue, biological (enzymatic) plastic decomposition is increasingly gaining attention. Recently it was shown that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be degraded in a saltwater-based environment using bacterial PETase produced by a marine diatom. At moderate temperatures, plastic biodegradation is slow and requires sensitive methods for detection, at least at initial stages. However, conventional methods for verifying the plastic degradation are either complex, expensive, time-consuming or they interfere with the degradation process. Here, we adapt lensless digital holographic microscopy (LDHM) as a new application for efficiently monitoring enzymatic degradation of a PET glycol copolymer (PETG). LDHM is a cost-effective, compact and sensitive optical method. We demonstrate enzymatic PETG degradation over a time course of 43 days employing numerical analysis of LDHM images. © 2020 Elsevier Ltd

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