Students Discover Plastic-Eating Fungi!

A group of students from Yale University recently discovered a fungus that breaks down polyurethane, a plastic used to make many common household and industrial products.

As noted in the ASM journal article, perhaps one of the most important characteristics of Pestalotiopsis microspora is its ability to break down polyurethane in anaerobic conditions similar to those at the bottom of a landfill. This exciting discovery holds promise as a potential solution for the world’s mounting waste problem. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving Earth’s biodiversity, especially in critical rainforest habitats.

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The Yale molecular biochemistry students were conducting research in Ecuador as part of the university’s annual Rainforest Expedition Laboratory. Kudos to these students (and their professor) for this important discovery!

Image Source: kfisto/Flickr