Plastic Feeding Fungi
As I write this, scientists are hard at work trying to figure out how to take advantage of fungal enzymes to break down human civilization's waste!
There are fungi that can break down just about anything!
There are members of the genus Pestalotiopsis that can break down polyester polyurethane! This is a type of plastic found in skateboard wheels, certain adhesives, foams, fabrics and elsewhere.
Researchers have found certain fungi, like Aspergillus terreus and Aspergillus fumigatus, that can use polyethylene as a carbon source. In other words, the fungus can feed on polyethylene! Polyethylene is most famously found in the supermarket plastic bag! Polyethylene products account for approximately 1.66 million tons of municipal solid waste according to waste360.com.
Fungi produce a wide variety of enzymes to break apart a host of different types of chemical bonds. This provides an incredible opportunity to learn, understand, and partner with fungi in order to efficiently recycle consumer waste products!
Fungi are awesome.
J. R. Russell et al., "Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi" Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2011. 6076 - 6084
S. Zahra, S. S. Abbas, M. Mahsa, and N. Mohsen. "Biodegradation of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) by isolated fungi in solid waste medium". Waste Management. 2010. 30: 396 - 401
Comments are closed.