er their entry into the environment, plastics are exposed to a multitude ofabiotic environmental factors that change both their physical and chemicalcharacteristics. While the initiation of biotic degradation on pristine polymershas been reviewed, it is generally accepted that biotic degradation is enhancedon polymers that initially have undergone some sort of abiotic degradation,particularly photodegradation. This work seeks to understand the intricacies ofbacterial interactions with plastics by investigating the interaction of proteins topolymers with increasing extents of photodegradation, which should giveinsight into the potential attachment and biofilm formation on plastic debrismaterials. Using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a model protein, we haveinitially investigated the changes in structural characteristics and fluorescenceof the model protein as it adsorbs onto the surface of irradiated polyethylene.Changes to the secondary structure characteristics of BSA were monitoredthrough circular dichroism and preliminary data has shown that with anincrease in irradiation time, there is a characteristic shift of the 3.6 ?-helices tomore tightly wound 3.10 ?-helices. This is likely due to the increasedhydrophilicity of photodegraded polymers causing the hydrophobic residues towind more tightly. Fluorescence of the tryptophan’s in BSA shows a decreasewith exposure to the polymers regardless of irradiation time, indicating potentialfluorescence quenching from the surface of the polymer. Overall, these resultsindicate that an increase polyethylene irradiation time causes an increase ininteraction strength between the polymer and protein, which may explain howbiotic degradation is increased with abiotically degraded polymers. Ultimatelythis work will contribute to our understanding of the fate of plastics in theenvironment.
Friday, April 9, 2021; 3:30 p.m. Remote via Zoom; Liam Fawcett, Master's Student, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Minnesota Duluth; Research Advisor: Dr. Melissa Maurer-Jones
Fawcett, Liam; University of Minnesota Duluth. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Characterizing the Changes to Protein Sorption to Photodegraded Polyethylene (2021-04-09).
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