Special Issue "Biocatalytic Functionalization and Degradation of Synthetic Polymers"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 January 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Zimmermann

Department of Microbiology and Bioprocess Technology, Leipzig University, Johannisallee 23, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: enzyme technology; industrial biotechnology; biocatalytic modification of polymers; carbohydrate bioengineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It has been demonstrated that synthetic polymers, such as polyethylene terephthalate and polyester polyurethanes, can be effectively modified and even completely degraded by microbial enzymes. The biocatalytic hydrolysis of these polymers is emerging as a new strategy to improve the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste. Enzymes can also be used to modify the surface properties of synthetic polymers for example to enhance the hydrophilicity of synthetic fibers or plastic films.

Contributions presenting progress in our understanding of the biocatalytic mechanism, structure-function relationships, and engineering of novel polyester hydrolases are welcome. Topics may also include innovative applications of these enzymes, for example for the functionalization of polymer surfaces. Original work reporting novel enzymes for the degradation of other recalcitrant synthetic polymers, such as polyethylene and polystyrene, will also be of interest.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Zimmermann
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Synthetic polymers
  • Biocatalysis
  • Polymer functionalization
  • Plastic recycling
  • Polyester hydrolases
  • Polyethylene terephthalate
  • Polyurethanes
  • Polyethylene
  • Polystyrene

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Enzymatic Degradation of Star Poly(ε-Caprolactone) with Different Central Units
Polymers 2018, 10(11), 1266; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10111266
Received: 19 October 2018 / Revised: 9 November 2018 / Accepted: 11 November 2018 / Published: 14 November 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2832 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Four-arm star poly(ε-caprolactone) with a central poly(ethylene glycol) PEG unit bridged with 2,2-bis(methyl) propionic acid, (PCL)2-b-PEG-b-(PCL)2, and six-arm star PCL homopolymer with a central dipentaerythritol units were hydrolysed using a lipase from Pseudomonas [...] Read more.
Four-arm star poly(ε-caprolactone) with a central poly(ethylene glycol) PEG unit bridged with 2,2-bis(methyl) propionic acid, (PCL)2-b-PEG-b-(PCL)2, and six-arm star PCL homopolymer with a central dipentaerythritol units were hydrolysed using a lipase from Pseudomonas cepacia and the Thermobifida cellulosilytica cutinase Thc_Cut1. For comparative analysis, Y-shaped copolymers containing methylated PEG bridged with bisMPA, MePEG-(PCL)2, and linear triblock copolymers PCL-b-PEG-b-PCL were also subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis. The hydrophilic nature of the polymers was determined using contact angle analysis, showing that a higher PEG content exhibited a lower contact angle and higher surface wettability. Enzymatic hydrolysis was monitored by % mass loss, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). A higher rate of mass loss was found for lipase catalysed hydrolysis of those polymers with the highest PEG content, leading to significant surface erosion and increase in crystallinity within the first two days. Liquid chromatography (LC) and size exclusion chromatography (SEC) of samples incubated with the cutinase showed a significant decrease in molecular weight, increase in dispersity, and release of ε-CL monomer units after 6 h of incubation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biocatalytic Functionalization and Degradation of Synthetic Polymers)

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