A new bacteria has been discovered in Japan that actually eats plastic.
Until this discovery, it was thought that most plastics were completely resistant to all species of bacteria, yet this new information could be all we need to start cleaning up our plastic waste once and for all.
The discovery was made after a group of Japanese scientists were investigating numerous fields of debris for the development of new waste disposal techniques. They eventually came across a debris field that contained a colony of bacteria that was growing on the plastic waste and actually using it as a food source.
Not only was the bacteria seen to be consuming plastic, it was more importantly examined whilst breaking down PET – the most commonly used type of plastic there is.
“It’s the most unique thing. This bacterium can degrade PET and then make their body from PET.”
The newly discovered species of bacteria has been named Ideonella sakaiensis , after the city of Sakai where it was found. Following the new findings, the team of researchers carried out several experiments on the Ideonella sakaiensis bacteria to determine its effectiveness.
This involved isolating the bacteria whilst analysing its ability to break down a plastic film, which took the bacteria around six weeks – quite impressive to say the least.
But how did this happen?
It appears that nature has taken it upon itself to start clearing up the mess that man has made on the planet and is evolving new micro-organisms in order to combat our activity. In any case, scientists believe that this is due to the microbes’ ability to adapt to any situation given the right amount of time.
Enzo Palombo, professor of microbiology at Swinburne University said:
“If you put a bacteria in a situation where they’ve only got one food source to consume, over time they will adapt to do that.”
So it is obvious now more than even that Mother Nature is beginning to fight back against the damage that we have been doing to this planet. In this case it can be seen as a triumph, yet this should also be seen as a huge warning.
If we are not careful, and carry on damaging, polluting and killing, maybe Mother Nature will one day figure out a way to neutralise us.