Yale students discover a fungus that loves to eat plastic

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posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 02:18 AM
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Plastic is a wonderful thing. It encases our gadgets, helps keep our food fresh, holds our water, and carries our data, as well as having a multitude of other uses. But there is one major problem with it: plastic does not breakdown on a reasonable timescale. The chemical bonds are so strong it is very difficult for nature to degrade it. The end result is lots of waste plastic being buried or clogging up our oceans for the next several generations. What we need is a way to quickly breakdown plastic waste, and the solution has appeared from an unlikely source. Students from Yale discovered a new type of fungus, called Pestalotiopsis microspora, while on a Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory trip to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. While there, the students were tasked with collecting microorganism and plant cell samples, and the fungus became one such sample. When the students returned, it was discovered this fungus loves eating plastic, more specifically polyurethane, which we use millions of tons of every year. Popular uses include foam for inside furniture, building insulation and flooring, as a sealant, varnish, or paint, for making surfboards and inflatable boats, and it even gets used to make watch straps and garden hoses.

www.geek.com...
Looks like we might have a solution to all the plastic waste we're producing right now. I find it incredibly beautiful that a natural fungus would eat something man made and unnatural like plastic. It's almost poetic.

 
 

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edit on Sun Feb 5 2012 by DontTreadOnMe because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 02:32 AM
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it will revolutionize the world, i hope they put this fungus to use straight away, it will be the most well fed organism on the planet with all the plastic we use.



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 02:52 AM
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Perhaps this can be used to eliminate that plastic island floating around the ocean?

Also have to wonder... Seeing how plastic is made from oil, do you think this fungus would eat oil as well?



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 02:57 AM
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Now I wonder what would happen if that fungus got loose in the civilized world
I mean you know how hard it is to get rid of a fungus when it appears at your home , now look at it from a macro scale since we do have a lot of plastic all around us


Never the less great discovery, since we could use some plastic eating plants to clean up that mess that we did
edit on 5/2/12 by Thill because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:03 AM
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S&F for the op
.
Now question, how long till this takes over the world since alot of what we use is made out of plastic
.



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:04 AM
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Originally posted by Max_TO
Perhaps this can be used to eliminate that plastic island floating around the ocean?

Also have to wonder... Seeing how plastic is made from oil, do you think this fungus would eat oil as well?


That is an awesome question, i hope someone can help you answer it.



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:08 AM
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well that fungi better stay away from my pc


can you imagine?
leaving your house in the morning only to come back and find out your pc, tv and cellphone have been eaten


but this could have some huge and profound implications.

nice find OP
edit on 5-2-2012 by kn0wh0w because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:12 AM
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is there any info as to any waste products from the fungii?

Does it produce CO2 or poop plastic?!? how fast do they consume the plastic? Could you have say a concrete compost bin with this organism inside and just chuck your weekly plastic in?



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:13 AM
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Its just a shame that we do not know of any fungie that like to feast on spent uranium or plutonium, Might help stop future disasters.

Is this fungus edible like a tree fungus or button mushroom, or can it cause stimulation like some of those they sell at hippy festivals?



posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:19 AM
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Reply to post by lewman
 


Ok so it eats oil probably bc its made from plastic, its eats pollution plastic... Let's invest in this like us here on this board ... I bet we can male this ourselves then sell it to landfills before it hits the market


 
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posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 03:22 AM
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That's why I love reading ats there is so much theory on this forum that you tend to hear about groundbreaking stuff all the time Before the market even capatalizes on it


 
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posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 09:23 AM
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reply to post by targeting
 


Polyurethane is only one family of plastics and is already biodegradable because of amide and ester functionalities. There are many different polyurethanes and some are less degradable than others. Part of the problem is that the urethanes do degrade readily and some release BisPhenol A when they do so.
Polyethylene and polypropylene are highly resistant to degradation because they lack chemical functionalities that allow ready attack by bacteria and fungi. After some photodegradation and oxidation, they are more susceptible to such but still have a long half-life.
The bottom line is that while the newly discovered fungi are scientifically interesting, they likely would not solve any problems.





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