Researchers discover caterpillar that can easily decompose plastic

Looks like we might finally have a solution to break down incredibly resistant plastic. There are trillion of polyethylene plastic bags used every year throughout the world.But scientists have reported in Current Biology that a caterpillar commonly known as wax worm might be our hero here.

Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain said that the larva of Galleria mellonella, was able to biodegrade one of the toughest, most resilient, and most used plastics-polyethylene.says A previous study also shows that Plodia interpunctella wax worms, the larvae of dian mealmoths, can also digest plastic.

Bertocchini and her colleagues made the discovery by accident, after noticing that plastic bags containing wax worms quickly became riddled with holes. When it was furthur studied it showed that the worms may do damage to a plastic bag in less than an hour.

After 12 hours, all that munching of plastic leads to an obvious reduction in plastic mass.Researchers showed that the wax worms were not only ingesting the plastic, they were also chemically transforming the polyethylene into ethylene glycol.

Even though plastic is not one of their regular diet, it is suspected that their ability is a byproduct of their natural habits. Wax moths usually lay their eggs inside beehives. The worms hatch and grow on beeswax, that is composed of a highly diverse mixture of lipid compounds. The researchers say the molecular details of wax biodegradation requires further investigation, but it is likely that digesting beeswax and polyethylene involves breaking down similar types of chemical bonds.

“Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” Bertocchini says.

As we know the molecular basis,the researchers say it might be used to devise a biotechnological solution for managing polyethylene waste. They will continue to explore the process in search of such a strategy.

“We are planning to implement this finding into a viable way to get rid of plastic waste, working towards a solution to save our oceans, rivers, and all the environment from the unavoidable consequences of plastic accumulation,” Bertocchini says. “However,” she adds, “we should not feel justified to dump polyethylene deliberately in our environment just because we now know how to bio-degrade it.”

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

10 Bizzare Medical Technologies that is set to amaze you in 2017 Many of these breakthroughs we have today weren’t available few years ago. The more technological our world becomes, the more options we have when...
10 Outcomes of Agro biotech which is improving the global agricultural sector Biotechnology has often been considered  alike with biomedical research, but there are many other industries which take advantage of biotech metho...
10 quick and interesting DNA facts that you probably didnt know Here is the top ten list of DNA  facts you didnt know about: 1.Your girlfriend can smell your DNA. Studies have shown that women are more attrac...
10 Trending Bio-tech topics of this year that you should not miss Whether it is about using biorobots or using nanoparticles for gene delivery, biotechnology companies are blooming with new ideas. Here is a hot list ...
10 ways how 3D printing is transforming the biotech industry A woman living on a dialysis machine is grown a new kidney using her own cells!  An old man struggling with age-related vision loss has his eyesight r...
10 ways how nano robots might change the future of science Often new technology has the ability to inspire or terrify yet excite us. By now you must have figure out by now what a nanobot really is. These robot...
5 bizzare body parts that can be grown in lab Imagine vaginas grown in dishes and bones made out of 3D printers. This must look like a scene from a science fiction movie but it has actually become...