Fungus that eats plastic discovered


/ Environment

05 Mar 2012


Students at Yale University discover a fungus that could help reduce plastic waste

Students from Yale University on a field trip in Ecuador, where a fungus that can degrade plastic was discovered     Photo © Yale University

Undergraduate students at Yale University in the US have discovered a fungus that can digest the common plastic, polyurethane.

The fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, was discovered in Ecuador’s Amazon region during the University’s annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course.

The findings, which could lead to innovative ways of reducing waste in the world’s landfills, were published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology in September 2011.

Student Jonathan Russell told Yale Alumni Magazine: “Many microbes can do cool tricks, like degrading pollutants.”

The plants were identified in the field by botanist Percy Núñez, a professor at the National University of San Antonio Abad in Cusco, Peru.

At Yale a previous graduate of the course, Pria Anand showed that the fungus could live and prosper on a diet of polyurethane alone, and it is believed to be able to function in the oxygen-free conditions that exist at the bottom of landfill sites.

Jonathan Russell has isolated an enzyme that the fungi use to break down the plastic and Yale believes that this molecule alone could be useful in eliminating waste polyurethane.


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  1. David says:

    Yes! Sounds like big and wonderfull news. But what does it produce as a result of its digestion.. Water?

  2. victoria trow says:

    I went to a talk given by a couple of Americans who have been developing algaes that will clean up polluted sites 6 or 7 years ago – fantastic successful work.

There are 2 external links to this article:

  1. Ciuperca care consuma plastic | Adrian Bideaua
  2. Найден гриб, который ест пластик «

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