Home Science Plastic eating bacteria that could save the planet discovered

Plastic eating bacteria that could save the planet discovered


According to a report published in Journal Science on March 10, 2016, it has been confirmed that a group of researchers in Japan have discovered a microbe that is astonishingly good at eating PET bottles. PET bottles have a very durable plastic, and they are considered to be very hazardous to our planet as it is very much resistant to break down.

The discovery has spread a wave of hope among environmentalists and nature conservationists who have been searching ways to destroy nonrecycled pet bottles. World Economic Forum states that more than 342 million tons of plastic has been produced annually, and out of this, only 14% is collected for recycling purposes.

The newly discovered microbes love to feed on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics. Researchers believe that wise use of this bacteria will help to find a solution in destroying plastic waste that all around ocean like massive islands of garbage. Fungi is also known for breaking down PET, and now this new microbe is also found effective in doing the same.

Kohei Oda, co-author and applied microbiologist in Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan stated that this newly discovered microbe has the diagnostic capability to degrade PET entirely to Carbon Dioxide and Water. The new pet is being named Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, and it can degrade PET in six weeks, at a temperature of 30 degrees Celcius.


The biochemical analysis confirms that two key enzymes are involved in the breakdown of PET. Out of the two, one enzyme works with water to break down plastic to an intermediate substance, while the others convert PET into basic building blocks.

Oda also added that researchers will love to improve the ability of microorganisms to degrade plastic. He believes that this new finding has a crucial role in maintaining the health of our nature, and it has umpteen numbers of real life applications.

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An entrepreneur by birth, blogger by choice, and geek by heart. He founded Sprouts Media, a blogs/websites network company, currently owns over 10 popular web properties, to cater his passion of journalism and entrepreneurship. He is also known as an avid reader, technology enthusiast, explorer, and a broken lover. His passion for knowledge keeps him running all the time. A pure vegetarian, who believes in reincarnation & law of karma and follows the philosophy of “Live and let others Live” because all living beings have equal right on the resources of this planet. He loves to write about Technology and Social Issues on his blogs. He can be reached at nitin [at] sprouts.media.