The Plastic Eater   Leave a comment

Researchers have found the first endophytic fungus that eats plastic, and can use it as its sole food source even in oxygen-free environment. Pestalotiopsis microspora presents a massive bio-remediation opportunity for landfills, where buried and surface plastics can be degraded naturally. The enzyme responsible for degrading polyurethane (PUR) will be tweaked, patented, and commercialized.

It also produces taxol, a chemical used to treat breast and ovarian cancers, though the Himalayan yew is more is more commercially profitable for extracting it. The PUR-degrading enzyme “is extracellular , secreted, and diffusible ,” said the Yale University researchers who made the discovery. The jungle fungus spits out an enzyme that diffuses to “a significant distance” from it’s body, expanding the potential range of cleanup.

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