Scientists created a ‘super enzyme’ that eats plastic bottles

Photo: Shanti Mitchell


By now you have heard that plastic pollution is one of the most environmental concerns in the world. By any measurement, things like single-use plastic bottles monitor flood landfills and eventually spread to our oceans at frightening rates. Pew Charitable Trusts, for example, projects that we will be dumping into the sea by about 29 million metric tons per year by 2040, reducing and influencing the ecosystems we trust or with the ocean Let’s talk.

And this is a problem that only encapsulates itself because plastic is not biodegradable, meaning that once it is made, we are stuck with it. This has prompted scientists to conduct research to change the way that waxworms are employed to eat food. A heavily researched theoretical solution is to create an enzyme that can essentially dissolve various plastics, and a team of scientists announced this week that they had one that could eat plastic bottles six times faster than before is.

It began in 2016 when scientists discovered a bacterium in Japan that could break the molecular bonds of the world’s most used plastic – polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or polyester. “Some bacteria think plastic is fantastic,” he wrote in detail, adding that bacteria can break down low-grade plastic in a few days.

That original enzyme was called PETAS which they now combined with another called MHETase, commonly used to break down cotton. There is a new “super enzyme” created by coupling that they report that works six times faster. As promising is the fact that researchers make the project a viable technique to break down plastics on a large scale “within the next year or two”.

“When we added enzymes, rather unexpectedly, we experienced a dramatic increase in activity,” Professor John McGeehan said at the University of Portsmouth, UK. “This is a trajectory in an attempt to rapidly make enzymes that are more industrially relevant. But it is one of those stories about learning from nature and then bringing it to the laboratory. ”

Nevertheless, with the new findings, the researchers intended to leave the ancestors, as their current innovation is not commercially viable.

“There are huge possibilities,” McGeehan said. “We’ve got several hundred in the lab we’re currently gluing together.”