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Bionics

Mushrooms: The New Solution for our Plastic Problem?

You cannot look around your local environment without seeing something made out of plastic. Almost all the stuff we buy is packaged in plastic. Since recycling packaging materials is difficult and expensive, these plastics are being moved to landfills to bio-degrade. If left undisturbed, this process could take more than a thousand years for the plastic lying on the bottom, where there is hardly any oxygen. Fortunately, researchers have recently found a fungus in the Amazon rainforest which is able to degrade the plastics.

In an expedition to discover plants and microorganisms in the Amazon, researchers discovered the first fungus species that could live on a diet of polyurethane and thrive in a climate without oxygen. This means that plastic on the bottom of a landfill might possible by broken down by Pestalotiopsis microspora or a similar species.

The mushroom is only found in the Amazon, a place without any plastics. Will this fungus have a future outside the rainforest?

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