An Esterase from Anaerobic Clostridium hathewayi Can Hydrolyze Aliphatic−Aromatic Polyesters

Veronika Perz, Altijana Hromic, Georg Steinkellner, Tea Pavkov-Keller, Karl Gruber, Klaus Bleymaier, Sabine Zitzenbacher, Armin Zankel, Claudia Mayrhofer, Carsten Sinkel, Ulf Kueper, Katharina Schlegel, Doris Ribitsch, Georg M. Guebitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, a variety of biodegradable polymers
have been developed as alternatives to recalcitrant materials.
Although many studies on polyester biodegradability have
focused on aerobic environments, there is much less known on
biodegradation of polyesters in natural and artificial anaerobic
habitats. Consequently, the potential of anaerobic biogas sludge
to hydrolyze the synthetic compostable polyester PBAT
(poly(butylene adipate-co-butylene terephthalate) was evaluated
in this study. On the basis of reverse-phase highperformance
liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) analysis,
accumulation of terephthalic acid (Ta) was observed in all
anaerobic batches within the first 14 days. Thereafter, a decline
of Ta was observed, which occurred presumably due to
consumption by the microbial population. The esterase Chath_Est1 from the anaerobic risk 1 strain Clostridium hathewayi DSM-
13479 was found to hydrolyze PBAT. Detailed characterization of this esterase including elucidation of the crystal structure was
performed. The crystal structure indicates that Chath_Est1 belongs to the α/β-hydrolases family. This study gives a clear hint
that also micro-organisms in anaerobic habitats can degrade manmade PBAT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2899-2907
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)

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