Ubiquity of Polystyrene Consumption and Degradation by Mealworms (the larvae of Tenebrio molitor ) from Different Geographic Sources

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    • M.H. Shan
    • Shanshan Yang
    • Wei-Min Wu
    • Han-Qing Fan
    • Anja Malawi Brandon
    • Joseph Receveur
    • Yiran Li
    • Rui Fan
    • Zhi-Yue Wang
    • Shu-Hong Gao
    • Rebecca McClellan
    • Ning Daliang
    • Debra Phillips
    • Hongtao Wang
    • Bo-Yu Peng
    • Ping Li
    • Shen-Yang Cai
    • Ling-Yun Ding
    • Wei-Wei Cai
    • Jun Yang
    • Min Zheng
    • Jie Ren
    • Ya-Lei Zhang
    • Jie Gao
    • Defeng Xing
    • Nan-Qi Ren
    • Robert Waymouth
    • Jizhong Zhou
    • Hu-Chun Tao
    • Christine Picard
    • Mark Benbow
    • Craig Criddle

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    Academics researchers and “citizen scientists” from 22 countries confirmed that yellow mealworms, the larvae of Tenebrio molitor Linnaeus, can survive by eating polystyrene (PS) foam. More detailed assessments of this capability for mealworms were carried out by12 sources: five from the USA, six from China, and one from Northern Ireland. All of these mealworms digested PS foam. PS mass decreased and depolymerization was observed, with appearance of lower molecular weight residuals and functional groups indicative of oxidative transformations in extracts from the frass (insect excrement). An addition of gentamycin (30 mg g−1), a bactericidal antibiotic, inhibited depolymerization, implicating the gut microbiome in the biodegradation process. Microbial community analyses demonstrated significant taxonomic shifts for mealworms fed diets of PS plus bran and PS alone. The results indicate that mealworms from diverse locations eat and metabolize PS and support the hypothesis that this capacity is independent of the geographic origin of the mealworms, and is likely ubiquitous to members of this species.

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    • Ubiquity of Polystyrene Consumption and Degradation by Mealworms (the larvae of Tenebrio molitor ) from Different Geographic Sources

      Rights statement: Copyright 2018 Elsevier. This manuscript is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits distribution and reproduction for non-commercial purposes, provided the author and source are cited.

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      Embargo ends: 18/08/2019

    DOI

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)262-272
    JournalChemosphere
    Journal publication date01 Dec 2018
    Early online date18 Aug 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2018

    ID: 158210958