Ability of fungi to degrade synthetic polymer nylon-6

Chemosphere. 2007 May;67(10):2089-95. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2006.09.038. Epub 2007 Jan 25.


Fifty-eight fungi have been tested for their ability to degrade a recalcitrant synthetic polymer polyamide-6, generally known as nylon-6. Most of them were isolated from a factory producing nylon-6. After preliminary screening, 12 strains were selected for submerged culture in a medium with nylon fibres as the only N-source. No degradation was observed with the isolates from the factory. Wood degrading fungi from a culture collection, however, degraded nylon after incubation for several weeks. Bjerkandera adusta disintegrated the fibres most efficiently, starting with the small transverse grooves, which deepened into cracks. The superficial layers crumbled to leave a thin inner core of the fibre, which finally broke down into fragments. The remaining insoluble part of the nylon showed a decrease in number average molecular mass from 16900 to 5600 during a 60-day incubation. Its thermal properties, such as shifts in melting points and broadening of the melting endotherms, were altered. The reduction of the amount of nylon and the composition of the liquid phase indicated that part of the polymer was degraded into soluble products. After 50 days, the total nitrogen content of the soluble fraction was 10-fold higher than in the control sample. Manganese peroxidase, presumably responsible for the degradation, was detected in the liquid phase. The study shows that only white rot fungi are able to break down nylon-6. For the first time this polymer was shown to be disrupted by B. adusta. The extent of the biodegradation indicates its potential for application in nylon waste reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Calorimetry, Differential Scanning
  • Caprolactam / analogs & derivatives*
  • Caprolactam / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Polyporales / growth & development*
  • Polyporales / isolation & purification
  • Surface Properties
  • Viscosity


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polymers
  • nylon 6
  • Caprolactam