Plastic-Eating Fungi found in Amazon

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Caet
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Plastic-Eating Fungi found in Amazon

Postby Caet » 15 May 2012, 22:56

Well, this is certainly a possibly-enormous day in the world of environmental health:
A group of students and professors from Yale University have found a fungi in the Amazon rainforest that can degrade and utilize the common plastic polyurethane (PUR). As part of the university’s Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory educational program, designed to engage undergraduate students in discovery-based research, the group searched for plants and cultured the micro-organisms within their tissue.

Several active organisms were identified, including two distinct isolates of Pestalotiopsis microspora with the ability to efficiently degrade and utilize PUR as the sole carbon source when grown anaerobically, a unique observation among reported PUR biodegradation activities.

Polyurethane is a big part of our mounting waste problem and this is a new possible solution for managing it. The fungi can survive on polyurethane alone and is uniquely able to do so in an oxygen-free environment. The Yale University team has published its findings in the article ‘Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi’ for the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal.
SOURCE: http://mashable.com/2012/03/07/plastic-eating-fungi/

Isn't it funny how the Earth seems to find solutions to our problems? I'm really hoping that this is a real discovery.

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Re: Plastic-Eating Fungi found in Amazon

Postby skydove » 16 May 2012, 09:26

I'm amazed that something found in the Amazon has abilities to digest plastic a place where I wouldn't think there was much plastic to digest and therefore no need for this facility to have evolved. I would have thought that if we were to find a fungus like that it might have come from a rubbish dump itself where adaptation to the environment it found itself in could have occurred more easily. But great that it has been found if it can be safely utilized.
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DJ Droood
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Re: Plastic-Eating Fungi found in Amazon

Postby DJ Droood » 16 May 2012, 13:35

I wonder what they poop out?

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Re: Plastic-Eating Fungi found in Amazon

Postby treegod » 16 May 2012, 23:11

Good news.

Interesting question DJ. Something that crossed my mind was what sort of waste products they produce and how does that effect the environment.

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Re: Plastic-Eating Fungi found in Amazon

Postby Whitemane » 06 Aug 2012, 21:08

Polyurethane is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

All of these are ncessary for growth, and may well be assimilated by the fungus, but possible waste products are carbon dioxide, water, ammonia, and nitrate.

Actually, it doesn't surprise me at all that there is a fungus that can degrade polyurethane. Some fungi can degrade lignin, which is akin to to chewing on steel, so having the capacity to chew on a polyamide like polyurethane is no great metabolic achievement.
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