01 June 1402 at 14:17
Scientists have discovered new species of plastic-eating fungi and bacteria in China that could play an important role in cleaning up environmental pollution.
With the daily production of 400 million tons of plastic by humans, plastic pollution is one of the most important environmental challenges in the world today. To face this problem, scientists have thought of using plastic-eating fungi and bacteria; Microorganisms that can eat and break down plastic.
Recently, Chinese and British scientists discovered new and diverse species of plastic-eating fungi and bacteria in the salt marshes of the Jiangsu region of China.
The members of this team succeeded in identifying 184 types of fungi and 55 types of bacteria with the ability to break down polycaprolactone (PCL); A biodegradable polyester that is used in the production of various types of polyurethane.
But in the meantime, there were two types of bacteria (Jonesia and Streptomyces) that showed that they can even decompose other petroleum polymers.
Discovery of new species of plastic-eating fungi and bacteria
The research team began their work by collecting plastic waste in Dafeng, a UNESCO protected area near the coast of the Yellow Sea. They then identified the fungal and bacterial species found in the plastic samples through the genetic method of metabarcoding.
Researchers noticed the presence of a plastisphere (ecosystems evolved to live in plastic environments) in coastal plastic waste; But this microbial community was different from the microorganisms in the surrounding soil.
From these findings, the scientists concluded that specific microbiomes such as these could play a key role in the identification and evaluation of plastic-eating microorganisms, making them a valuable resource.
The importance of this discovery in the management of plastic pollution
Plastic-degrading microbiomes can be at the forefront of tackling plastic waste and help us solve a global problem. Previously, in separate studies, plastic-eating fungi and bacteria were discovered, and the results of this new research work complement them.
Of course, the knowledge of using plastic-eating microorganisms is still in the initial stage, and it will take some time for them to be effectively used to remove plastic pollution. These findings are encouraging and represent a potential solution.