Applied microbiology and biotechnology

Microbial degradation of styrene: biochemistry, molecular genetics, and perspectives for biotechnological applications.

PMID 16823552


Large quantities of the potentially toxic compound styrene are produced and used annually by the petrochemical and polymer-processing industries. It is as a direct consequence of this that significant volumes of styrene are released into the environment in both the liquid and the gaseous forms. Styrene and its metabolites are known to have serious negative effects on human health and therefore, strategies to prevent its release, remove it from the environment, and understand its route of degradation were the subject of much research. There are a large number of microbial genera capable of metabolizing styrene as a sole source of carbon and energy and therefore, the possibility of applying these organisms to bioremediation strategies was extensively investigated. From the multitude of biodegradation studies, the application of styrene-degrading organisms or single enzymes for the synthesis of value-added products such as epoxides has emerged.