Jeppe Lund Nielsen
Polyethylene pollutions are considered inert in nature and adversely affect the entire ecosystem. Larvae of greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) have the ability to masticate and potentially biodegrade polyethylene films at elevated rates. The wax moth has been thought to metabolize PE independently of gut flora, however the role of the microbiome is poorly understood and degradation by the wax moth might be involved. To determine whether the salivary glands of the wax moth were potentially involved in the PE degradation, it was investigated how surface changes of polyethylene were affected by mastication and consumption. Formation of pitting and degradation intermediates including carbonyl groups, indicated that salivary glands could assist in polyethylene degradation. We investigated the biochemical effect of exposure by PE on the composition of the salivary gland proteome. The expression of salivary proteins was found to be affected by PE exposure. The proteins that were significantly affected by the exposure to PE revealed that the wax moth are undergoing general changes in energy levels, also enzymatic pathways associated to fatty acid beta oxidation during consumption to PE were induced.