Polythioesters (PTEs) represent a novel class of biopolymers, which basically can be synthesized with polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biosynthesis systems. Albeit technical applications of PTEs have not been elucidated yet, biodegradability might be an important property of this new thermoplastic material. In this study, extensive approaches were employed to isolate microorganisms capable of degrading poly(3-mercaptopropionate), poly(3MP), as a model compound of PTEs. Screening of 74 different environmental samples using various enrichment techniques were applied, but neither bacteria nor fungi could be isolated hydrolyzing poly(3MP). Furthermore, microcosms such as soil, compost, or activated sludge were applied to search for poly(3MP) degrading microorganisms, considering microbial communities and/or nonculturable bacteria, and the poly(3MP) material was exposed for more than half a year. However, no poly(3MP) degrading organisms were found, indicating an unexpected persistence of this biologically produced polymer.
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