Honors Theses


Justin Biffinger



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Honors Thesis


Certain microorganisms secrete enzymes capable of degrading organic material. Fungi are very common degraders of polymers since they require minimal water. Two fungal strains, Naganishia albida and Papiliotrema laurentti, were isolated from an in-service aircraft and studied in order to gain insight into their overall mechanism of biodegradation when exposed to synthetic polymers. The cells were grown in Yeast Mold liquid media at pHs of 4.0 and 7.6, and the secreted proteins were preserved by extracting and freeze-drying the supernatant of the cultures. The samples were then used for different electrophoresis techniques such as SDS-PAGE, IEF, and 2D-E in order to compare secreted protein expression profiles from the two fungal strains. Other techniques such as gel permeation chromatography, HPLC, and zymography were also performed. The findings provide a more comprehensive explanation of how the secreted proteins are interacting with synthetic polymers during their breakdown and provide evidence that the organism may be responding to its specific environment during the process.

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Undergraduate research



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