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Characterization of the intestinal fungal microbiota of the insect pest Helicoverpa armigera and its possible involvement in the biodegradation of polystyrene

Grant number: 23/02321-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2023
Effective date (End): December 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Molecular Genetics and Genetics of Microorganisms
Principal Investigator:Flavio Henrique da Silva
Grantee:Gabrieli Seiscentos Cardenas
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Polystyrene is a polymer that, like other plastics, has very versatile physical and chemical properties, allowing a wide range of products for various applications, in addition to low cost. Proportional to the growing demand for this material, its accumulation in the environment is observed, which causes social and ecosystem problems. At the same time, many researches have been carried out aiming at the biodegradation of this polymer from the observation of nature. In this sense, it was verified that certain insect larvae were capable of using polystyrene as a carbon source and that would be related to their intestinal microbiota. For this reason, this project aims to identify the intestinal fungal microbiota of caterpillars of the lepidoptera Helicoverpa armigera that may be involved in the polymer biodegradation process. Fungi (including unicellular and filamentous) will be identified in the intestine via sequencing of the ITS region and filamentous (which we will emphasize) will be isolated from solid medium plating (PDA). Furthermore, they will be enriched after growth in a culture medium whose only carbon source will be polystyrene. After isolation, microorganisms will be cultivated on a film of this polymer, biofilm formation and material modifications will be evaluated. Finally, the isolated filamentous fungi will be individually identified via sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of the DNA encoding the ribosomal RNA. In this way, we intend to characterize the intestinal fungi of this insect's larvae, something still unpublished, and also to verify its possible participation in the degradation of polystyrene.

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