Tuesday, 17 April 2018

pet project or message in a bottle

Via Slashdot, we learn that building on the 2016 discovery of a strain of bacteria in a dump in Japan that ate plastic, a group of researchers at the University of Portsmouth accidentally prodded the catalyst that allows the bacteria to breakdown and metabolise PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic into overdrive.
Curious to understand the evolutionary mechanism that selected for such appetites in the first place, scientists altered the enzyme inadvertently whilst taking it apart. Though further trials are needed, researchers are confident that the process is scalable and could be a tool (this is a big problem whose solutions take a concerted effort and shifts in behaviours, as well) in combating the problem of plastic waste in the oceans.