Amazon is known to be home for more species than nearly anywhere else on Earth. On the other hand, amounts of plastic mankind produces, disposes of and lays to waste on landfills or in the nature is growing day by day and it has become a worldwide problem.
Amazing discovery – a group of scientists from Yale University, led by their molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel, discovered a fungus in the jungles of Equador which can eat plastic! Bottles, shoes, food packaging, children toys, or any other polyurethane substance, simply disappears thanks to the newly discovered fungus!
Students were on a yearly trip in the Yasuni National Forest through their Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course with the mission to „experience the scientific inquiry process in a comprehensive and creative way.” As part of the course, students collected plants and then the microorganisms were cultured within the plant tissue.
The fungi, Pestalotiopsis microspora, is an endophytic microorganism, first ever discovered to break down and digest polyurethane. What is even more surprising is that it is capable of doing this in anaerobic (airless) conditions, such as those present at the bottom of landfills!
The Yale team published their findings in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology late last year, concluding that the microbe is “a promising source of biodiversity from which to screen for metabolic properties useful for bioremediation.” Hopefully, the abilities of this amazing fungus could be used worldwide in the fight against plastic, and provide an alternative to simple plastic landfill disposal.
Let’s hope for the best!