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Tue Apr 17, 2018, 05:05 AM

Scientists engineer plastic-eating enzyme that could help fight pollution

http://www.dw.com/en/scientists-engineer-plastic-eating-enzyme-that-could-help-fight-pollution/a-43414142

Scientists engineer plastic-eating enzyme that could help fight pollution

Researchers have accidentally improved a naturally occurring enzyme to enhance its plastic-eating abilities. The modified enzyme, which can digest plastic used in bottles, could help in the fight against pollution. Scientists from Britain's University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory "tweaked" the structure of the naturally occurring enzyme after they found that it was helping a bacteria to break down, or digest, plastic used to make bottles.
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The engineered enzyme could in future help in the fight against pollution caused by plastics, which can persist for hundreds of years in the environment and currently pollute large areas of land and sea worldwide. The team of scientists is now working on improving the enzyme further to see if they can make it capable of breaking down plastics on an industrial scale. Their initial goal had been simply to understand the enzyme's structure.
(snip)

The enzyme called PETase was discovered in Japan a few years ago when scientists found that it was helping a bacterium break down plastic. Japanese researchers believe the bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis evolved fairly recently in a waste recycling center, since plastics were not invented until the 1940s. Ideonella sakaiensis feeds exclusively on PET plastic, widely used in bottles.

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Reply Scientists engineer plastic-eating enzyme that could help fight pollution (Original post)
nitpicker Apr 17 OP
Bernardo de La Paz Apr 17 #1
ehrnst Apr 17 #2
FailureToCommunicate Apr 17 #3
Nitram Apr 17 #4
Javaman Apr 17 #5
Canoe52 Apr 17 #6

Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2018, 07:03 AM

1. Thanks for bringing this to us! Trumpanzees will tell you that evolution is impossible.


the bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis evolved fairly recently in a waste recycling center, since plastics were not invented until the 1940s. Ideonella sakaiensis feeds exclusively on PET plastic, widely used in bottles.

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Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2018, 07:26 AM

2. I read "Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters" in grade school.

Essentially, in an effort to combat waste, a company comes up with a plastic bottle with a tab you rip off when you are finished, and it dissolves in water.

Meanwhile, a scientist develops a plastic eating bacteria. He has a stroke, and drops a tube of the bacteria into a sink where it goes into the sewage system - filled now with dissolved plastic from those bottles - and grows like wildfire.

It starts getting into wiring systems, and pretty much destroys civilization.

A cautionary tale - thankfully this bacteria only feeds on PET, not vinyl.



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Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2018, 07:38 AM

3. What could posibly go wrong?

plastic surgery...computor wires...shopping bags...oh my

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Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2018, 08:23 AM

4. I can see the horror movie now. Plastic-eating bacteria gets into the Tupperware and civilization

as we know it comes to a halt.

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Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2018, 09:11 AM

5. anyone have any idea what the plastic breaks down into? nt

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Response to nitpicker (Original post)

Tue Apr 17, 2018, 12:16 PM

6. Uh oh, there goes my fiberglass boat!

Always liked wood boats better anyway.

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