Now soil fungus to break down plastic

Q.  What type of fungus will scientists use to break down plastic materials?
- Published on 04 Apr 17

a. Water fungus
b. Air fungus
c. Soil fungus
d. Both b and c
e. All the above

ANSWER: Soil fungus
Now soil fungus to break down plasticScientists have identified a soil fungus, which uses enzymes to rapidly break down plastic materials, an advance that could help deal with waste problem that threatens our environment.

Humans are producing ever greater amounts of plastic — much of which ends up as garbage.

Since plastic does not break down in the same way as other organic materials, it can persist in the environment over long periods of time.

Scientists found an unexpected solution to the growing plastic problem in the form of a soil fungus.

Attempts to deal with plastic waste through burying, recycling, incineration or other methods are variously unsustainable, costly and can result in toxic by-products.

These are hazardous to human health.

The researchers took samples of soil and various pieces of rubbish in hopes of finding an organism that could feed on plastic waste in the same way that other fungi feed on dead plant or animal material.

Aspergillus tubingensis is a fungus, which ordinarily lives in the soil.

In lab trials, the researchers found that it also grows on the surface of plastics.

It secretes enzymes onto the surface of the plastic, and these break the chemical bonds between the plastic molecules, or polymers.

Using advanced microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, the team found that the fungus also uses the physical strength of its mycelia - the network of root - like filaments grown by fungi - to help break down the polymers.

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