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Biochemistry students at Yale University have discovered a fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, in the Ecuadorian Amazon that can decompose plastic into organic matter. Pestalotiopsis microspora can grow on polyurethane, which is a component of plastic, and feed on it, using it as a carbon source to convert it into organic matter. Several species of fungus can break down plastic, such as Fusarium culmorum, which produces enzymes called cutinases, which have the power to degrade additive plasticisers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but Pestalotiopsis microspora is the only one that can do so without the presence of oxygen.
This makes a big difference because it makes it possible to study its application in landfills and recycling plants to achieve one of the most important breakthroughs in reducing pollution.
Once again, nature is wise, offering these mycological creatures to take care of the environment.
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