Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Amazon fungi found to eat plastic

  1. Feb 1, 2012 #1
    Anyone have an update on this development? Is it a viable solution? Are the mushrooms tasty? :)

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It doesn't appear that anyone's cited it yet, according to google scholar. I don't think they're mushrooms though, more of a fungal "growth".

    http://nhregister.com/content/articles/2011/08/02/news/new_haven/doc4e38a3be0000b2026019331.jpg [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. Feb 1, 2012 #3
    Not sure what you mean by "more of a fungal 'growth' " but you're right - Pestalotiopsis are ascomycetes - and "mushrooms" are typically basidiomycetes. This genus includes plant pathogens. "Solution" to what? Consider this is polyurethane so not all plastics - it may be useful for disposal of that material but probably brings alot more cost than landfill or recyle.
  5. Feb 1, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2017 Award

    Perhaps you could take the enzyme from this fungus, put it into yeast or bacterium, and engineer these microorganisms to break down plastics. You could even take it a step further and engineer the microorganisms to use the breakdown products of the plastics to create biofuels or other industrially useful carbon compounds.
  6. Feb 1, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    That might be a big deal. The ability to digest the carbon with or without the presence of an oxidizer could allow greater flexibility in the application of these fungi to break down plastics.
  7. Feb 1, 2012 #6
    I saw that and it's not for "plastics" - it's for polyurethane, a plastic readily recycled now. From the abstract, it is remarkable that fungal growth was demonstrated under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions and polyurethane served as the sole surce of carbon. The extent to which PU material was physically degraded is not reported in the abstract but it is clear that energy would needed to produce and ferment/treat particluate material. Further this is an ednohyte and a plant pathogen.so it's also nt evident that this species/isolate requires an associated plant or that it's repplicatio in other parts of the world wouldnot place economic crops at risk.

    On a slow news day, I'm sure this will be magnified to mean the end of plastic waste but it may be more apparent than real that this offers a useful means of addressing this material.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook