Fungi that eats plastic

Plastic Waste

Plastic Waste

Plastic packaging degrades really slowly, so the recycling plastic was always problematic, and expensive. Any plastic dumped into the ground could last for generations.

Until now! Meet Pestalotiopsis microspora, a fungi discovered in the Amazon, which can eat, and recycle plastic.

The Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on earth. The group of students, part of Yale’s annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory with molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel, ventured to the jungles of Ecuador.

The students searched for various plants and microorganisms, but the real gem was something they found accidentally – a fungus new to science with a voracious appetite for a global waste problem: polyurethane.

It is the first fungus that managed to survive only on a diet of polyurethane (plastic). What is more surprising, it didn’t need any oxygen to digest the plastic. This is important, because there is little if none oxygen available at the bottom of a landfill.

The Yale team published their findings in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology last year saying that the microbe is “a promising source of biodiversity from which to screen for metabolic properties useful for bioremediation”.