Feb 3, 2012
Plastics were used in different consumable products and tools that we used in our day to day living. That is why it seems impossible to live conveniently without it. But we also knew that this material creates problems if discarded improperly. Unlike paper it does not decompose easily and with natural degradation it said to decay completely only after a hundred or even thousand years.
This characteristic of plastics causes landfills to pile up easily that becomes a risk when natural calamities occur like flash floods. Also if similar materials like small plastic bags were thrown into the river and seas, marine animals mistaken it for food and will surely die.
But with the recent discovery of a group of students, we could expect for this problems to ‘naturally’ disappear. On one of their annual trip to the Amazon forest, the group was believed to have discovered a fungus that can digest polyurethane.
Polyurethane is a material that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of items including rubber and plastic products. The fungi, Pestalotiopsis microspora, is said to be the first type of fungi to survive eating only PUR (polyurethane). In addition to this the fungi can also live in an oxygen-free environment that is similar to the condition found at the bottom of a landfill.
A student from the group has successfully isolated the enzymes that allow the fungi to degrade plastic to become its food source. Their findings could be found in the American Society for Microbiology site that clearly illustrates how the fungi could be of help in reducing pollutants the ‘natural’ way.