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These newly discovered bacteria can eat plastic bottles
The discovery, published in Science on Thursday, could lead to new ways to manage 50 million tons of this particular type of plastic produced worldwide each year.
The plastic found in the water bottle is called polyethylene ate alate, orPET.
Also found in frozen polyester clothing
Tray and blister packaging.
\"If you\'re walking down the aisle at Walmart, you\'ll see a lot of pets,\" says Tracy Minser, who studies plastics in the ocean at the Woods Hole institute of oceans in Massachusetts.
Part of the appeal of PET is that it is light, colorless and sturdy.
However, it also has well-known resistance to microbial decomposition ---
Experts call it biodegradable.
\"Previous studies have found that some fungi can grow in pets, but so far no one has found any edible microorganisms.
The research team of Kyoto Institute of Technology and Keio University in Japan described eating bacteria in the study, collecting 250 pets
Contaminated samples from plastic bottle recycling sites, including sediment, soil and wastewater.
Next, they screened the microorganisms that lived on the samples to see if any of them were eating pets and using it to grow.
They initially found a group of bugs that seemed to destroy the PET film, but in the end they found that only one bacterial species would cause PET degradation.
They named sakaiensis itIdeonella.
Further testing in the laboratory showed that it used two enzymes to break down pets.
After the bacteria are attached to the surface of the PET, an enzyme is secreted on the pet s, producing an intermediate chemical.
This chemical is then absorbed by the cells, and another enzyme is further decomposed to provide the bacteria with the carbon and energy they need to grow.
The researchers reported that if the temperature remained stable at 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the sakaiensis ofIdeonella community working in this way could break down PET Films within six weeks.
Minger, who was not involved in the work, said that the study left a deep impression and did a good job, indicating that these creatures had a good effect on eating plastic.
However, it is not clear, for example, whether it will help plastic stay away from the ocean, he said.
\"When I think clearly, I really don\'t know where it will take us,\" he said . \".
\"I don\'t see how microorganisms degrade plastics better than putting plastic bottles in recycling bins so they can be melted to make new plastic bottles.
He added that the study could make it easier to identify other microorganisms that may have similar pets
\"This process may be quite common,\" he said . \"
\"Now that we know what we are looking for, we may see these microorganisms in many parts of the world.
\"Do you like science? I do!
Follow me on Facebook @ DeborahNetburnand \"like\" the Los Angeles Times Science and Health.
For more information on global sustainability, please visit our global development watch page: latimes. com/global-
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