Scientists have found plastic-eating organisms. See how they accidentally created it?
Plastics are everywhere. And plastics have become an inseparable part of our life. It has changed our life completely. But this wonder of technology got a little out of our hand. As a result, Plastics have heavily damaged our environment. It has spoiled the land, invaded the marine and tropical animals and now it’s finding its way in our body. And the problem is to keep growing at a very tremendous rate. Each year we produce about 300 million tons of plastic. And more than 80% become waste. And today we have over 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste. But recently scientists have discovered some micro-organisms and organisms, are capable to break the plastic and change it into compost. In micro-organisms, they discovered bacteria that can eat plastic. They kept working on this bacteria and they accidentally made it stronger or improved it to for work fast.
Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6
In 2016, scientists from Japan tested many different bacteria for a recycling plant of the bottle and they found some interesting results, a bacteria are known as Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 is capable to eat or digest plastic. Bacteria do so by secreting some enzymes called PETase. This enzyme splits long complex molecules of plastic into smaller which bacteria absorb
them as its food.
Later, this bacteria was being studied by scientists. And to determine a precise structure of enzyme secreted by bacteria they passed
Diamond light source an intense beam of X-rays to reveal its every atom. They compared its structure from the structure of enzyme secreted by other bacteria to break cutin. This found it is similar. But when they manipulated it to find its connection, they
accidentally improved its ability to break PET by 20% better. But some scientists believe that the enzyme still not optimized well, and they can make it stronger a super-fast enzyme.
Wax worm is an organism basically a caterpillar. This worm also has an amazing plastic-eating skill. It was first observed when a
scientist of Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain, was cleaning up a wax worms infestation at home. She put all the worms in a plastic bag and left it in the room. When she came she found worms were everywhere in the room.
Researchers then performed some experiments to see that if they are eating plastic or just chewing through it. They raped some worms and left them in the contract for 14 hours the found that they had eaten about 13% of all plastic and left a sticky material behind (ethylene glcol) a main compound of antifreeze. This experiment confirmed that they can eat plastic. Scientists believe that they will find the enzyme that worms use to perform this action and produce it artificially. In same direction, Bertocchini said, “Maybe we can find the molecule and produce it at high-scale rather than using a million worms in a plastic bag.”