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Scientist have discovered a Fungus That “Eats” Plastic

The world today is besieged by the problem of plastic waste. Plastic has been found to be one of the most detrimental materials for the environment and scientists have been researching safe ways to dispose of this waste.
In 2016, more than 320 million tons of plastic was produced by the world’s 7 billion people. This figure is projected to double by 2034. The water bodies of the earth are also said to be polluted with so much plastic that it is endangering marine life everywhere. Figures by sas.org show that there are approximately 269,000 tonnes of plastic waste floating in the oceans. This roughly translates to about 5.25 trillion large and small pieces of plastic.
Environmentalists have been doing their bit to try and clean up the seas and oceans by removing as much waste as they possibly can. Recently, Boyan Slat a Dutch inventor created an effective way to clean the oceans. His Ocean Cleanup System 001 is basically a lengthy fully automated floating boom which will be able to clean up the ocean quite effectively without endangering marine life. The bigger problem, however, is in disposing of this waste once it is collected.

A recent discovery by scientists of a fungus that eats plastic comes as a ray of hope in dealing with this monstrous issue. The innocuous-looking mushroom which was found in a garbage dump in Pakistan is able to disintegrate plastic waste within weeks. Mushrooms come under the category of fungi because of their distinct characteristics like the absence of chlorophyll, growth in moist conditions and their ability to feed on living and dead organisms.
Fungi also have the ability to feed on other contaminants like sarin nerve gas, radioactive waste, and toxic chemicals. Certain fungi also have elements that have medicinal properties like penicillin and lovastatin, which are used for treating various ailments. Some mushrooms like the shitake mushroom and oyster mushroom also contain lovastatin, eritadenine, and lentinan which could be beneficial for treating various cardiac problems.
The findings of the plastic eating fungi were published in the science journal, Environment Pollution. During lab tests, scientists observed that the mycelium of the fungus Aspergillus tubingensis was able to colonize polyester polyurethane plastic, which resulted in scarring and surface degradation. The study found that the fungi were able to completely degrade a sheet of polyester polyurethane in a span of two months when kept in a liquid medium. Researchers, however, are still trying to figure out how to harness this ability of mushrooms and bacteria to tackle the tons of plastic waste that we continue to fill the environment with.

Scientist have discovered a Fungus That “Eats” Plastic Scientist have discovered a Fungus That “Eats” Plastic Reviewed by Tim on May 22, 2019 Rating: 5

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