Scientists Have Just Discovered A Fungus In Pakistan That Consumes Plastic

Plastics are causing more harm to the world than anything else. Researchers all over the world have come to a conclusion that if the overdependence on Plastic continues for next two to three decades, the planet could well turn out to be a plastic planet and cause havoc in the society. As we all know plastic takes a millennium to decompose in the soil of the land. Though plastic offers great utility in our everyday life, it has become a nightmare to the society. It has been just over 50 years since we started using plastic but people all over the world have already consumed more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic. This overuse of plastic has slowly started to affect the planet in a negative way and is expected to cause more havoc if we don’t mend our ways.

Just think of this, out of 8.3 billion ton of plastic bought world over, nearly 70% end up filling the landfills as waste materials. Even after decades of study, scientists have not been able to find an organic way to break down the plastic. Dr. Roland Geyer, an industrial ecologist, says, there is nearly no way to break down the plastic in a natural way. He says, the world is heading towards making earth a ‘Plastic Planet’, and if people don’t want to live in such a world then, people will have to get their thoughts organized and rethink how to use some materials, particularly, plastic.

Though there’s this gloomy picture everywhere, scientists from Pakistan have found a fungus which can consume plastic. In the study titled “Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Aspergillus Tubingensis”, a team of scientists from Pakistan reported their findings of a fungus which could feed on plastics. The study which was published in ‘Environmental Pollution’ journal was conducted by the team of scientists under the leadership of Sehroon Khan of the World Agroforestry Center. The team for the purpose of experiment picked up plastics from a dump in Islamabad and fed it to Aspergillus Tubingensis to find out whether the fungus had the potential to feed on the plastic just like they do on the dead animals and plants.

The fungus named, Aspergillus Tubingensis, was found to be the fungus which could consume the plastic. The scientist’s team found that the fungus firstly colonizes the plastic and then produces enzymes that have the power to destroy the chemical bonds of the polymer. The fungus makes use of its mycelia to tear the plastic and then degrades the polyester polyurethane. The scientists were astonished to find out that it took only a few weeks for the fungus to complete the process of degrading the plastic.

In the early 2017, a similar discovery was made by Dr. Federica Bertocchini who found out that wax worms easily ate through the plastic and were able to consume about 12 milligrams of plastic in about 12 hours. The scientists being successful in discovering the worms and fungus who could feed on the plastic and help in decomposing it within a short period of time is great news for the world and it could one day lead to making this earth a ‘Plastic Free Planet’. Please do share this happy news with your friends on Facebook and other social media sites.

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1358923

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