The door to a new era opens
Plastic-eating worms offer hope
Vita gazette – Scientists have discovered worms that can break down plastic waste. This discovery opened the door to new hope in plastic recycling. Superworms that love to eat plastic could revolutionize recycling. They smash the polystyrene with their mouths and then work like mini recycling plants, feeding the bacteria in their guts.
Plastic is the worst substance for the environment to do away with. Recycling is the only option we have as disposing of a debiodegradable product is next to impossible without causing harm to the environment. Eventually, it ends up in huge garbage dumps and landfills for years or finds its way to the oceans where it hurts ocean life.
A species of worm with an appetite for polystyrene have been found by the Researchers at the Australia University of Queensland that could revolutionise plastic recycling on a mass scale. In the latest study, scientists at the University have discovered that these super worms—the larvae of Zophobas morio darkling beetles—have bacterial gut enzymes. that can recycle plastic at higher rates, and they like to dine on such substances.
From the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biological Sciences, Dr. Chris Rinke and his team fed the superworms with different diets over a three-week period, some with polystyrene foam, some with bran, and others on a starvation diet. Superworms fed a polystyrene-only diet not only survived, but also experienced marginal weight gain. “This suggests that worms can extract energy from polystyrene, most likely with the help of gut microbes.”
The long-term goal is to produce enzymes capable of breaking down plastic waste in recycling plants through mechanical degradation followed by enzymatic biodegradation.