Unlocking the Biotechnological and Environmental Potential of KCTC Fungal Resources: Insights from LDPE Plastic Biodegradation by Aspergillus

Fungi, as essential eukaryotic microorganisms, play a pivotal role in ecosystems worldwide. They are prolific producers of valuable compounds such as antibiotics, enzymes, and pigments, with diverse applications spanning agriculture, food production, pharmaceuticals, and environmental pollution control. The Korean Collection for Type Cultures (KCTC), operated by the Biological Resource Center (BRC) at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), stands as South Korea’s largest biological resource center. KCTC has recently earned recognition as the central bank of Microbial Infrastructure Cluster by Ministry of Science & ICT, and is accredited under KS J ISO 20387:2018 KOLAS standards. With a repository that now boasts over 8,530 strains of potentially invaluable fungal resources, KCTC holds a unique position in this regard. Today, our focus extends beyond KCTC fungal resource management, as we explore the ecological and biotechnological potential of fungal resources. For instance, in response to the pressing issue of plastic pollution, which carries significant environmental, economic, and social impacts, we embarked on a study to investigate the biodegradation of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastics by fungi. We isolated and characterized Aspergillus nidulans from agricultural waste, subsequently assessing its proficiency in LDPE biodegradation. Our findings demonstrated that A. nidulans could thrive using LDPE as its sole carbon source. Further analysis through Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) confirmed the formation of hydroxyl and other chemical bonding groups on the oxidized LDPE film. This study not only unveils the previously undiscovered capabilities of A. nidulans but also provides valuable insights to support the development of strategies to combat plastic pollution.