All posts tagged: plastic eating bacteria

Plastic eating cows?

The Daily Mail reports that researchers at Austria’s University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences recently discovered several microbes in the stomach of cattle that have the ability to break down plastics.

Plastic-chomping bacteria discovered

In 2016, workers at a recycling plant in Sakai, Japan found that their plastics were degrading or in organic terms rotting away. This was very unusual because plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and it is notoriously difficult for microbes to break it down because PET’s molecular string is too large for the microbes, in simple terms, to swallow, and digest. Because of this, many are concerned that our landfills and oceans will simply continue to fill with plastic. But ‘rotting’ plastic had everyone’s attention and after researchers took a closer look, they discovered it was being caused by a plastic-eating bacteria. NPR writes: Most plastics are insurmountable obstacles for microbes because plastics are large chains of repeating molecules called polymers. The entire chain is far larger than the individual microbe. “So the organism can’t take it inside the cell to metabolize it,” says John Coates, a microbiologist at the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved with the work. Imagine a baby trying to eat an enormous pizza from the middle. …