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Another kind of bacteria that eats (hard) plastic

Another kind of bacteria that eats (hard) plastic


Plastics are a growing environmental problem, partly because they are difficult to degrade. Now, scientists have found a microorganism that can help break down the hardest plastic.

The bacteria Pseudomonas sp. TDA1 seems to be able to engage with the chemical bonds of polyurethane-based plastics, which are very common in everyday products, from refrigerators to leather shoes.

Polyurethane does not melt when heated, so it is difficult to destroy, but Pseudomonas sp. TDA1 can metabolize certain chemical components of this plastic.

"Bacteria treat these compounds as the only source of carbon, nitrogen, and energy." Hermann Heipieper, a microbiologist at the Helmholtz Environmental Research Center (UFZ) in Germany, explained, "This discovery leads to recycling that is difficult to degrade An important step for PU products. "

We found Pseudomonas sp. TDA1 in the soil of a dump site containing a lot of brittle plastics. After genome analysis and other experiments, scientists confirmed the bacteria's ability.

TDA1 is a bacterium capable of handling toxic organic compounds, and is a member of the family of highly adapted microorganisms, these extreme microorganisms can survive in the harshest environment.

As far as plastic degradation is concerned, a bacterial-based solution is a promising start, but it is only the beginning. We need to understand the information about the biochemical processes behind metabolism.

Data from 2015 shows that the annual production of polyurethane plastics in Europe exceeds 3.5 million tons. Polyurethane plastics are light and strong, so they are attractive to manufacturers, but when they enter landfills, they release toxic and even carcinogenic chemicals.

However, bacteria are not the only hope. Scientists are also trying to change the manufacturing process of plastics to make them easier to degrade.

Most importantly, there are more and more efforts aimed at reducing the use of plastics-the lower our dependence on plastics, the less garbage in landfills.

The researchers wrote in the paper: "Plastics is already a major environmental challenge, and it is becoming more and more difficult."

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