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Intestinal fungal microbiota of the insect pest Sphenophorus levis: Characterization and investigation of its involvement in the biodegradation of polystyrene

Grant number: 23/04811-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2023
Effective date (End): August 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biochemistry - Molecular Biology
Principal Investigator:Flavio Henrique da Silva
Grantee:Henrique Sebestyen França
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


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 In this way, we intend to characterize the intestinal fungi of the larvae of this insect, something still unpublished, and also to verify its possible participation in the degradation of polystyrene.

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