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Table 1 Best practices for reporting microbial plastic degradation. We describe information, techniques, and practices that are critical to provide strong evidence for biodegradation, as well as steps necessary to maximise reproducibility of the findings

From: Plastics and the microbiome: impacts and solutions

Item Description Importance Best practice examples
Plastic identity Descriptive name for the polymer, molecular weight and source. Study reproducibility. Almeida, et al. [151, 160]
Plastic composition Complete polymer composition, plus composition and quantity of all additives and fillers. To differentiate the degradation of polymer and additives. Montazer, et al. [169], Novotný, et al. [170]
Microbial taxonomic classification Taxonomic classification from well-characterised marker genes such as full 16S rRNA gene sequences for bacteria. Reproducibility and the extrapolation of findings to related species. Benefits studies into the phylogenetic distribution of plastic-degrading traits. Novotný, et al. [170], Hu, et al. [171]
Isolation environment and conditions Strain isolation location and site-specific properties such as temperature and pH. Identification of environments favourable for microbial plastic degradation. Novotný, et al. [170]
Strain accessibility Deposition and description of isolated strains in international culture banks. Permits greater reproducibility and further study by other researchers. Yoshida, et al. [161]
Assessment of plastic degradation Description of techniques used for confirmation of degradation, and preferably the use of multiple complementary methods (Fig. 4). Confirmation of degradation. It is important to confirm how techniques differentiate between the degradation of the polymer and additives, where included. Yoshida, et al. [161, 164]
Plastic-degrading enzyme and gene identification Identification of the enzyme responsible for the biological degradation and its gene sequence. Allows mining of molecular databases, recombinant gene expression, enzyme optimisation, etc. Kawai, et al. [160], Yoshida, et al. [161]