Honors Theses


Justin Biffinger, Ph.D.



Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis


Esters and amides are the most versatile functional groups in nature and in plastics today. Understanding the key temporal events in the biodegradation and susceptibility of polymers and plastics (e.g. polyester and polyester polyurethanes) to hydrolytic enzymes is important to the sustainable development of our modern society. I will present the isolation, identification, and classification of an environmental strain of Naganishia albida found on polymer coatings inside of aircraft. To better understand the capability of hydrolytic enzymes to degrade plastics we isolated, identified, and classified an environmental strain of Naganishia albida found on polymer coatings inside an aircraft. We utilized cultivation conditions that induced the secretion of several hydrolytic proteins (between 30 kDa and 140 kDa) from N. albida that were identified via LC-MS. We also isolated the hydrolytic proteins from cellular supernatants using size exclusion chromatography, and performed soluble colorimetric esterase assays and polyester polyurethane coating degradation experiments. Finally we showed comparisons between the hydrolytic proteins produced by N. albida and another polymer degrading yeast, Papiliotrema laurentii.

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Undergraduate research

Embargoed until Wednesday, April 01, 2026