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Assisting in the War against Plastic Waste: The Role of Mushrooms


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It is noteworthy that almost a third of the plastic waste in the world is polypropylene.

It is a durable plastic used to make bottle caps and food containers that can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Recently, scientists from the University of Sydney managed to completely break down polypropylene in just 140 days using two strains of microscopic fungi living in the soil of Aspergillus terreus Engyodontium, which ate plastic materials during laboratory experiments.

An article on this subject was published in the scientific journal Materials Degradation.

More than 400 microorganisms have been identified to date to naturally degrade plastics, and fungi have captured the attention of scientists due to their wide range of uses and powerful combination of enzymes.

At a basic chemical level, plastic is a chain of carbon atoms with different side chains that give each type of plastic material its distinctive properties. And there are so many different types of plastic that if you mix them together, it’s almost impossible to recycle. Most plastic waste is either incinerated or thrown into landfill.

The fungus breaks down the plastic into simpler particles, which can then be absorbed or excreted from the body. The method requires pre-treatment of the material with ultraviolet light, heat or a chemical reagent.

The next step the researchers will take is to develop a technology that can be applied on an industrial scale.

Source: Naoka. TV

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