Microbes evolve to feed on plastic

(ORDO NEWS) — Humanity has already produced such a colossal amount of plastic waste that bacteria around the planet have begun to evolve to feed on material that is new to nature. A study about this appeared on the pages of Microbial Ecology.

The authors of the new scientific work studied more than 200 million genes in DNA samples of microorganisms, and identified about 30 thousand enzymes that can participate in the decomposition of ten different types of plastic. All indications are that bacteria all over the Earth have begun to evolve to be able to use plastic in the process of their life.

As noted by Jan Zrimek of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, two-thirds of the enzymes identified by scientists do not belong to any known type, that is, they are new enzymes created by nature to decompose plastic. It appears that microbial communities across the planet are adapting to plastic pollution, which is a pressing problem for land and ocean.

Scientists are interested in finding enzymes that decompose plastic, as this will help humanity in recycling plastic waste, which has become a significant environmental problem. It is possible that microbial enzymes will play an important role in creating innovative plastic recycling methods.


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