Thursday, February 9, 2012

Plastic-eating fungus coming to a landfill near you

In the September issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Jonathan Russell and his colleagues at Yale describe how they isolated a fungus they identified as Pestalotiopsis microspora, which has a powerful appetite for polyurethane, a common plastic often winds up buried in landfills. 

One of the most promising results of the study is that the fungus can live and prosper on a diet of polyurethane alone, even under oxygen-free conditions similar to those at the bottom of a landfill.  This discovery could have important applications in waste reduction via bioremediation, which relies on biological processes to break down pollutants.

From the Register Citizen and Yale Alumni Magazine.

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