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IPFS News Link • Science

Newly discovered cold-adapted microbes digest plastic at low temperatures

• arclein

Already, several microorganisms that "eat" plastic have been discovered. These bacteria and fungi produce enzymes that break down the plastic, but when these enzymes are expanded to an industrial scale, they usually only work at temperatures above 86 °F (30 °C). Maintaining this temperature can be costly in terms of money and carbon neutrality. The potential for using cold-adapted microorganisms to biodegrade plastics has rarely been studied. Thankfully, a team of Swiss scientists knew exactly where to look for such microorganisms. Heading to the alpine and Arctic regions of Greenland, Svalbard, and Switzerland, they sampled 19 strains of bacteria and 15 fungi found on discarded or intentionally buried plastic.