The MICODE project aims at the development of innovative and eco-efficient biotechnological solutions to safely degrade plastic waste for its conversion into value-added biopolymers. We will study a mixed synthetic microbial consortium composed of a bacterium and a fungus to synergistically biodegrade conventional plastics. This is a challenging and innovative biotechnological proposal. A second life is given to these residues that, instead of representing a potential environmental problem, may constitute inexpensive and available resources. These are good basis for a sustainable and cost-competitive process to produce alternative polymers from wastes. The enzymatic mechanisms involved in the degradation of synthetic polymers are mostly unknown; in MICODE the molecular basis of these processes will be deciphered. In addition, the design and optimization of microorganisms for biotechnological purposes is usually based on the use of a single organism in pure cultures. However, in nature bacteria and fungi join their forces forming microbial consortia that take advantage of the metabolic abilities of the whole community, which are different and, in many cases, complementary.
Microbial cooperation frequently relies in their communication through chemical signals. These mechanisms can occur between microorganisms of different kingdoms such as bacteria and fungi that form mixed biofilms. This cross-talk usually leads to a benefit for both microorganisms that are able to form more resistant biofilms, which are metabolically more active.
Here we propose the creation of robust fungal-bacterial consortia to carry out complex biotransformations. We will study their metabolism and the formation of mixed catalytic biofilms with biotechnological purposes. Moreover, we will model the consortium to achieve an optimal biotransformation of plastic residues to produce biobased plastics.
The system will be studied from the phenotypical, physiological and molecular point of view, and the composition of the substrates and the product released in the different biotransformations will be analysed by means of metabolomics techniques.