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Plastic-Eating Bacteria Discovered in Japan Could Solve the Problem of Plastic Pollution

in Environment, Uncategorized January 30, 2017

We have always thought plastic to be resistant to bacteria because of its chemical structure but now it appears that is not the case. Could there actually be a bacterium that can metabolize plastic?

Yes, researchers have actually found a bacterium that can consume plastic! It is able to consume PET Polyethylene Terephthalate, this is one of the most popular types of plastic and is used to make bottles, food packaging and things of the sort. This bacteria is called ideonella sakaiensis because it was found in the Japanese city of Sakai. This could be something monumental for the world. We might be able to get rid of plastic in a way we never thought possible.

This colony of bacteria was found growing and using plastic waste as a food source in a debris field. This is possible because the Ideonella Sakaiensis has two capable enzymes that break the molecular bonds in the plastic polymer. In doing this the bacterium is able to metabolize the pieces of plastic and convert them into things like carbon dioxide and water. The only issue right now is that the Ideonella sakaiensis eats too slowly to keep up with our vast amount of pollution. This being found leads us to believe there are possibly other bacterium like this elsewhere.

Time will only tell if this bacterium can or will be used to neutralize the plastic pollution. Mother nature is doing her best to combat the harm we are doing. We need to find a way to fix the things we have done before it is too late. What do you think on this? Will this bacteria be the answer we have been looking for?