Saturday, August 25, 2012

There is a plastic-eating fungus in the Amazon.

There is a plastic-eating fungus in the Amazon.

While you probably use plastic bags to carry your food, a fungus by the name Pestalotiopis microspora could probably use it as food! Discovered in the Ecuadorian rainforest by a group of Yale student researchers led by Scott Strobel, it’s the first fungus species that is able to survive exclusively on polyurethane-the material used to make garden ho
ses, furniture, disposable spoons, etc.

Not only is this a scientific breakthrough, but also an environmental one. While polyurethane is easy to produce, durable, and cheap, we have no way of recycling it. However, the fungus is able to consume polyurethane in anaerobic conditions. Aka: the conditions found in the bottom of landfills. This makes them the prime candidates for bioremediation projects. Finally, there may come a day when you can ask for plastic at the grocery store without feeling that pang of guilt.

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