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Do you know about the ‘Plastic-eating’ fungus discovered in Pakistan

Scientists have discovered a natural method to degrade plastic which take decades. They have found a fungus that can break a non-biodegradable plastic in weeks by secreting enzymes which pull apart individual molecules. Let us find out about this fungus, how it works, what is the name of the fungus.
Sep 27, 2017 14:39 IST
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Plastic-eating fungus discovered
Plastic-eating fungus discovered

Strange but is true that a fungus is discovered which can degrade plastic. As we know that the average time for a plastic material to completely degrade is at least 450 years. Even some may take 1000 years to biodegrade, which is really a long time isn’t it. Let us see how a fungus can degrade completely plastic, where it is found, what is the name of that fungus, etc. No doubt if it will happen then definitely it will be a great achievement for the scientists and even for us also. As, pollution caused by the plastic is very dangerous not for our health, but also for marine life.
What are Biodegradable plastic?
Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be broken down by microorganisms i.e. bacteria or fungi into water, carbon dioxide and some bio-material (plants). Some biodegradable plastics are made up of bio-material or from oil in the same way as conventional plastics.
New discovery to degrade Plastic

A fungus that eats plastic is discovered
Source: www. images.fineartamerica.com

World’s first stable semi-synthetic organism discovered
Researchers from Pakistan and China have discovered a fungus which feeds on plastic in a dump in Islamabad. They found that the fungus Aspergillus Tubingensis can break down non-biodegradable plastic in weeks by secreting enzymes which break down the bonds between individual molecules and then use its mycelia to break them apart. These 9 researchers “of Pakistan and China have mentioned about it in a study titled “Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Aspergillus Tubingensis.
They have taken some samples from a dump in Islamabad to see if anything feeds on the plastic in the same way that other organisms feed on dead plant or animal matter. This fungus was then tested in liquid, soil and Sabouraud Dextrose Agar (SDA) plate to discover the ideal conditions for it to be most effective. It is primarily used for the isolation of dermatophytes, other fungi and yeasts. The lead author of the study Dr. Sehroon Khan and his team found that the fungus can decompose plastic in all three mediums. But bio-degradation was highest when it was cultured on an SDA plate followed by liquid and soil respectively.
Aspergillus tubingensis is typically found in soil, but the study found that it can also thrive on the surface of plastics.
So, it will be a great discovery as plastic takes decades to decompose and is hazardous to human health also. Aspergillus Tubingensis can be used in waste treatment plants to treat plastic particles that have polluted water supplies as well as soil.

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