Microbes are trying to correct the mistakes of humanity: more and more microorganisms develop the ability to decompose plastic

Scientists have studied microbial DNA samples taken from 236 locations on the planet. It turned out that their genes contain 30,000 enzymes that can degrade 10 types of plastic, FOCUS reports.

 Microbes are trying to correct the mistakes of humanity: more microorganisms are developing the ability to degrade plastic

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< p> The more debris, the higher the concentration of such microorganisms.

Scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have found that the number of microbial enzymes that can degrade plastic is increasing, and this is directly correlated with increasing levels of pollution on the Earth.

Areas that are most affected by plastic pollution are more microbes that eat plastic in soil and seas.

& # 8220; At the moment, we know little about these enzymes that break down plastic. We did not expect to find such a large number of them in different microbes and in different habitats & # 8221; – said the lead author of the study Jan Zrimek.

The researchers came to this conclusion by analyzing genes found in DNA samples taken from 236 locations around the world.
They looked for genes that code for enzymes that break down plastic.

In total, scientists found 30 000 enzymes – 12,000 in the oceanic microbiome and 18,000 in soil – capable of degrading 10 different types of plastics.

& # 8220; Our research clearly demonstrates how the environment responds to human intervention & # 8221; – noted scientists.

According to the latest data, 8 million tons of plastic waste – bags, bottles, packaging, containers, etc., fall into the waters of the World Ocean every year.

There are many countries littering the ocean.

The leaders are China, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam.

In these countries, all plastic waste is thrown into the streets, landfills, rivers, canals and the ocean.

Plastic and other waste is constantly dangles in a dense layer in coastal water, causing irreparable harm to nature and wildlife.

And then, from the coast, floating debris is carried by winds and currents to the seas and oceans, where it floats for many years.

The planet's pollution began simultaneously with the appearance of plastic dishes, about sixty years ago.

Convenient, inexpensive, disposable dishes facilitated housekeeping, then they were easily disposed of.

And since plastic products did not decompose and did not disappear from landfills, in comparison with other garbage, its accumulation went faster and more as technology advances and production increases.

For example, a plastic straw can take up to 200 years to decompose.

Currently, waste in general, and plastic in particular, cause serious damage to nature.

From Antarctic ice to the depths of the Mariana Trench – now on There is practically no natural environment on earth that is not affected by plastic pollution.

Despite the magnitude of the problem, the researchers believe that their discovery could be used to discover new enzymes and use them in plastic recycling processes, which will bring humanity one step closer to solving a global problem.

& # 8220; The next step will be to test the most promising enzymes in the laboratory in order to better study their properties and assess the rate of plastic degradation that they can cause. After that, we could create ecosystems of microorganisms aimed at destroying certain types of polymers & # 8221; – explained Alexey Zheleznyak, a researcher at Chalmers University who took part in the study.