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Organism That ‘eats’ Plastic Identified

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug. 2 (UPI) — Organisms growing in fungi in the Amazon rainforest can degrade polyurethane, suggesting innovative ways to reduce waste in landfills, researchers say.

Yale University undergraduates taking part in the school’s Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory course discovered the organisms, a university release said Tuesday

In the course, students search for and collect organisms called endophytes found in rainforest plants that are then taken back to New Haven to be tested for biological activity that could lead to medical or other uses.

Student Jonathan R. Russell discovered that one family of endophytes identified by previous course participants produced an enzyme that efficiently broke down polyurethane plastic.

“This shows amazing things can happen when you let undergraduates be creative,” said Kaury Kucera, a researcher in the department of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and co-instructor of the rainforest course.

While other agents can degrade polyurethane, the enzyme identified by Yale students holds particular promise because it also degrades plastic in the absence of oxygen, important for dealing with buried trash, the university said.

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  • s c

    In a world going crazy and a nation that has space cadets for leaders, this is a refreshing item. Could it be that not all of the so-called green movement is controlled by utopian drug addicts?
    Reclaiming overflowing landfills could make a green approach a sound activity (ecologically and financially). The trick is to keep it away from Uncle Scam, and let private enterprise [CAPITALISM]
    do what it has done so well for so many years.
    If this approach works, then use it. If you will recall, we’ve been told that plastic items are not subject to being broken down with any speed. This seems to contradict that scientific ‘omniscience.’

  • Jon Butler

    Yeah, and introducing kudzu here in America was a wonderful idea also.

    • s c

      J, I’ll do some quick research and see what you’re implying. Until then, what individual or group is responsible for ‘blessing’ America with kudzu? And, what are the EPA-types and greenies doing to undo the damage (assuming that they care about Mama Earth)?
      It sounds like something Duh Gore can get behind, as he is the current high priest of ecology issues. I’m still waiting to hear how many polar bears he’s rescued from drowning.

  • s c

    While some blame can be spread around to at least two groups, FDR is partly to blame for America being infested with kudzu. How about that? After all these years, FDR’s many “contributions” go on and on and on and . . .


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