Microbiological deterioration and degradation of synthetic polymeric materials: Recent research advances

Ji Dong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

565 Scopus citations


Biodeterioration of polymeric materials affect a wide range of industries. Degradability of polymeric materials is a function of the structures of polymeric materials, the presence of degradative microbial population and the environmental conditions that encourage microbial growth. Our understanding of polymer degradation has been advanced in recent years, but the subject is still inadequately addressed. This is clearly indicated by the lack of information available on biodeterioration of polymeric materials, particularly the mechanisms involved and the microorganisms participated. In this review, polymers are treated according to their origin and biodegradability, and grouped as biopolymer, chemically modified natural polymers and recalcitrant polymers. Selective examples are used to illustrate the mechanisms and microorganisms involved in degradation of specific polymeric materials, and detection methods used for degradation and deterioration tests are discussed. In addition, new detection techniques and preventive measures are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-91
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradation
  • Biodeteriogens
  • Biodeterioration
  • Fiber-reinforced composites
  • Fungi
  • Polymers
  • Prevention


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