A Bacteria That Eats Plastic Found in Japan

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We reuse, recycle and reduce all we can, but that wont help what we’ve already done to the fragile ecosystems of the world. Plus, some people don’t care. It takes millions of years to biodegrade… But maybe not?

Researchers found a plastic eating bacterium today, according to Science published on March 10th. This critter eats PET, a common plastic found in most of our everyday things like bottles, clothes and containers. Ideonella sakaiensis was found in Sakai, Japan near a recycling plant. According to their findings, the bacterium eats the PET plastic, and it is absorbed into it’s body, essentially making the bacteria a living… plastic.

According to John Coats, professor at UC Berkley, this microbe can’t just eat the plastic, it uses a ‘knife’ to cut the huge polymer chain. Because plastics are made of huge polymer chains, the bacteria uses to enzymes to slice it’s PET meals. Shosuke Yoshida, the author of the study, says that the animal grows fast, but eats slow.

Unfortunately, the slowness of it’s eating makes using it in the field inefficient.

Fortunately, we could modify the organism to work, or eat, faster.

Coats says that, “It’s certainly a move in the right direction. Having an organism that seems to be capable of biodegrading these components directly will help us develop a bioremediation technology.”

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/10/469972237/this-plastic-eating-bacterium-might-help-deal-with-waste-one-day

 

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