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Collection of Microorganisms


Databases and Culture Collection of Microorganisms Degradating Synthetic Polymers and Toxic Chemicals

Tech Area / Field

  • BIO-MIB/Microbiology/Biotechnology
  • BIO-CHM/Biochemistry/Biotechnology

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Weaver L M

Leading Institute
State Microbial Depository Center, Armenia, Abovian

Supporting institutes

  • Yerevan State University / Department of Molecular Physics, Armenia, Yerevan


  • Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, France, Paris\nAstrium GmbH / DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, Germany, Königsbrunn\nNASA Jonson Space Center, USA, TX, Houston\nPolytechnic University / Polymer Research Institute, USA, NY, Brooklyn\nDeutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., Germany, Köln\nResearch and Computer Science for the Environmental and Biomedical Laboratory, Italy, Genova\nTNO Strategy/Development Department, The Netherlands, Delft

Project summary

The Project represents the conversion of long-term R&D, related to microbial deterioration of weapon (missiles) polymers, to their safe and reliable use in civil needs, namely the biodegradation of synthetic polymers wastes and related chemicals aimed to control environment pollution. Based on the data obtained planning to develop integrated approaches of microbial degradation of synthetic polymers for obtaining of biodegradable as well as biostable polymeric materials. As the final goal is considered the development of methodological approaches for prediction of microbial deterioration/degradation of materials from synthetic polymers and related substances.

The Project represents an integrated complex of microbiological, biotechnological/biochemical and physicochemical R&D with application of modern informatics.

The proposed Project is based on the long-term research work, carried out at the Institute of Microbiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia (IM) in the study of microbial deterioration and degradation of weapon synthetic polymers and compounds. The Institute was functioning as the leading institution in this area in the FSU for polymeric materials of special use. The microbial deteriorants Collection and all results done in IM transfered to the Republican Centre for Deposition of Microorganisms (RCDM), representing the successor of IM in this field and having facilities to fulfill the Project as the leading institution with well-qualified personnel.

As the participating organization of the Project will function the Department of Molecular Physics of the Yerevan State University in Armenia (DMPh). The Department was actively engaged for many years in R&D of synthetic polymers for military use, particularly in the development of physical principles of aging of polymeric materials, in their study over molecular organization and physico-chemical characteristics. DMPh has qualified personnel, is well-equipped and actively co-operating with many foreign organizations in the field.

Microbiological researches aimed to evaluate the species specificity of biodegradation activity of isolated and studied microbial strains to certain classes of polymers and related substances such as: polyamides and polyimides, fluoroplasts and related materials, silicon-organics, rubbers, polyesters, polyethylenes and polyethylenterephtalates, halogen containing oligomers and others. More than 2000 strains of well-studied microorganisms isolated during long-term researches from deteriorated polymers in various geographical regions and space flights have to be used.

The degradation patterns of polymers and chemicals will be accompanied with detailed study of enzymatic activity of microorganisms responsible for degradation process. The microbial adhesion to surfaces of different polymers will be studied as the first step for colonization and growth of microorganisms. The research team of the Project will be also engaged in the study of plasmid regulating biodegradation activity of microorganisms.

Planning to select the efficient microbial strains and their associations for evaluation of biodegradation of certain types of polymers. The efficient methods for preservation of biodegradation activity of microbial strains in different media and conditions (including lyophilization and liquid nitrogen) have to be developed. The main aim is to work out the method for preservation and conservation of strains without loss of their biodegradation activity.

Database compilation comprises the analysis of the Data structure and the development of informational model for the data representation (hyerarchic, net, relational) with mathematical supply for functioning on the basis of computer graphics. The informational supply of the Databases includes the data description tools, classificators, rubricators for coding and decoding as well as input-output forms. The universal technology for functioning of the Databases will serve the system. Characteristic features for the Databases of microorganisms include the realization of software package for machine imitation of interaction "biodegradant-polymer". The identification and differentiation of microbial cultures should be done on the basis of image recognition methods and similarity coefficient through clasterization of operational taxonometric units.

Physico-chemical researches will comprise the study of alterations of materials, isolation and identification of biodegradation products to reveal the mechanisms of microbial biodegradation of certain classes of synthetic polymers and related chemicals. The physico-chemical properties and characteristics of adhesion phenomenon as well as polymer solutions will permit to make evident the main patterns of initial stages for decomposition of materials.

Due to ISTC Project Development Grant A-092-99 RCDM has done substantial work for preparation of forthcoming Project concerned to the maintenance of Culture Collection, compilation of databases, enlargement of foreign collaborations, preparation of revised Work Plan, etc.

The results of previous long-term R&D on microbial deterioration of synthetic polymers for military use have been summarized, treated and introduced in PC as the databases. The special version of software based on Visual FoxPro has been developed. At the moment databases of synthetic polymers and microbial deteriorants on PC have been practically completed and ready for application. Characteristic features of polymeric materials and strains of microbial deteriorants have been supplemented by new characteristics.

At the moment 6 Databases have been created and functioning in RCDM, including characteristics of microbial degradants; microflora and microbial overgrowth on polymeric materials; registration certificates of materials; characteristics of polymeric materials; complex evaluation on biostability of polymeric materials; integrated evaluation of resistance of polymeric materials to microbial degradation.

Successful solution of the Project objectives will promote the development of essentially important issues in fields of environment protection, namely the treatment and use of synthetic polymers by-products and toxic wastes. It will have a great contribution to peaceful, safe and reliable application and exploitation of synthetic polymers with significant amelioration of market-based economy, as well as to integrate the participants into the international scientific community.

The forthcoming Project provides earlier engaged weapon scientists in the CIS to redirect their R&D to peaceful activities.

Participation of foreign collaborators is basically planning in scientific consultations, shared use of the results obtained and their practical realization. It includes the use of microbial strains-biodegradants for environment control and the Databases for the synthesis of biodegradable and biostable polymeric materials. At present the following specialists gave their consent to function as foreign collaborators: Prof. Eli M. Pearce and Prof. Richard A. Gross (Polytechnic University, Polymer Research Institute, New-York, USA); Dr. Rolf Klintworth (DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG, Space Infrastructure, Bremen, Germany); Prof. Antonio Brogi (Dept. of Informatics, University of Pisa, Italy); Dr. Lout Goebel, (TNO Strategy&Development Department, Delft, Netherlands); Prof. Usio Simidu (International Committee on Microbial Ecology, Tokyo, Japan); Prof. Yukio Kimura (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mukogawa Women's University, Japan); Prof. Noshi Minamiura (Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Osaka City University, Japan).

The forthcoming Project A-092.2 will be based on the integrated and over-all evaluation of microbial degradation of polymeric materials by different methods and represents a unique and real possibility to solve the problem of reliable methodological approaches for prediction of microbial stability of synthetic polymers and related substances. It should be an essential contribution for the directed obtention of polymeric materials stable to microbial deterioration and their safe application in special fields, especially in space flights, space inhabited stations, etc.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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