Microbial detoxification of waste rubber material by wood-rotting fungi.
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The extensive use of rubber products, mainly tires, and the difficulties to recycle those products, has resulted in world wide environmental problems. Microbial devulcanisation is a promising way to increase the recycling of rubber materials. One obstacle is that several microorganisms tested for devulcanisation are sensitive to rubber additives. A way to overcome this might be to detoxify the rubber material with fungi prior to the devulcanisation. In this study, 15 species of white-rot and brown-rot fungi have been screened with regard to their capacity to degrade an aromatic model compound in the presence of ground waste tire rubber. The most effective fungus, Resinicium bicolor, was used for detoxification of rubber material. Increase in growth of the desulfurising bacterium Thiobacillus ferrooxidans in presence of the rubber treated with Resinicium bicolor compared to untreated rubber demonstrated that detoxification with fungi is possible.