Newly discovered bacteria chows down on plastic

The discovery was made by a Reed College undergrad.


NSFW    PORTLAND, OREGON — A U.S. undergraduate student has discovered a new kind of plastic consuming bacteria.

Morgan Vague, a senior at Reed College in Oregon has developed a new bacteria that eats polyethylene terephthalate, or P.E.T.

This synthetic fiber is a polyester polymer mostly common found in plastic bottles and clothing. P.E.T. takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment and is a major contributor to worldwide waste and pollution.

According to the Oregonian, Vague took soil, sand and water samples polluted with petroleum from Galveston Bay in Texas. From these, she narrowed down the microbes that produced the highest amount of plastic dissolving chemicals.

Next, she left three with nothing but plastic to feed on. She later found the three types of microbes had consumed all of the plastic. Two of the bacteria are known, but the third is a new bacteria discovered by Vague. She is calling it Pseudomonas morganensis, reports the Oregonian.
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