Researchers have found a fungi in the Amazon rainforest that can degrade and utilize the common plastic polyurethane (PUR) for energy. What a thought…that after all our destructive consumption of plastic has done to hurt mother nature, that she might hold the fix to this problem!!!? Amazing! The fungi can survive on polyurethane alone and is uniquely able to do so in an oxygen-free environment (I’m thinking landfills).
As someone who cringes at the thought of how much plastics are being put into landfills and our environment, this is fantastically exciting news, and I want to see it implemented if it works, so I wonder about two practical matters:
- Can we force these fungi to consume the PUR, or–given other options–will it choose to consume other materials? That is, if we put them in the landfill, will they choose to eat paper instead of the PURs we want them to eat?
- What byproduct(s) if any are produced by the fungi when it degrades/consumes the PUR; and is it good/better for the environment?
I hope the scientists have come up with great answers for these questions!!
The Yale University team of researchers have published its findings in the article ‘Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi’ for the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal.