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Started by Policywatcher on Dec 17, 2021 9:06:06 AM
Bacteria are evolving to eat plastics
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levelgaze - 17 Dec 2021 09:21:47 (#1 of 22)

Murmurs "The Earth Is Healing.."

Santada - 17 Dec 2021 09:25:46 (#2 of 22)

Think it through...

Donatella Versace should be getting a bit nervous?

Dubris - 17 Dec 2021 09:25:53 (#3 of 22)

Rather a nuisance if they start eating the plastics that we don't want to get rid of after short-term single use.

Oldbathrobe1 - 17 Dec 2021 09:27:29 (#4 of 22)

Bacteria are evolving to eat plastics



But what do they poo?

Gotout - 17 Dec 2021 09:27:32 (#5 of 22)

I thought we'd been eating plastic burgers in McDonald's for years?

GyratingTrampoline - 17 Dec 2021 09:42:45 (#6 of 22)

This is always presented in the news as "we can copy these new bacteria to develop new recycling technologies". Which is great, but the idea of uPVC windows starting to degrade is more exciting

tasselhoff - 17 Dec 2021 09:49:07 (#7 of 22)

Grey goo!

Dubris - 17 Dec 2021 10:08:24 (#8 of 22)

There are plastics in some surgical implants, aren't there? Grey goo inside you would be unwelcome.

Santada - 17 Dec 2021 11:21:17 (#9 of 22)

Unless you're Edwina Currie.

Zimtkuchen - 17 Dec 2021 13:09:05 (#10 of 22)

<reports Santada>

Santada - 17 Dec 2021 17:40:05 (#11 of 22)

Pffft

YuleNeverWalkAlone - 17 Dec 2021 19:02:31 (#12 of 22)

Tsk. You told her you'd wait for her to come.

Verdigris - 17 Dec 2021 19:13:19 (#13 of 22)

I remember reading a Christmas edition of Farmer's Weekly, in the 1970s, with a lighthearted story about what would happen to British agriculture if a mysterious agent dissolved all the polypropylene baler twine.

TommyDCMBR8 - 17 Dec 2021 19:23:04 (#14 of 22)

There's been more than one biotech project looking at developing plastic-degrading bugs down the years. Let the escaped from a lab conspiracies begin...

AdonisBlue - 17 Dec 2021 19:56:28 (#15 of 22)

My understand is soil bacteria degrade plastics as a result of exuding enzymes that will degrade large, complex soil molecules such as humic acids. They degrade plastics too as a sort of side benefit.

GyratingTrampoline - 17 Dec 2021 20:35:10 (#16 of 22)

I thought this latest study suggests that bacteria in different environments tend to have adaptations suited to extracting energy from the types of plastic most prevalent in their specific environment, implying that they are evolving specifically to eat plastic rather this being a side effect.

There's a lot of energy embodied in plastic

AdonisBlue - 17 Dec 2021 20:58:39 (#17 of 22)

It's that's true we are fucked.

It was twenty years ago I worked on soil bioremediation using rhizospheric bacteria to degrade heavy organic pollutants. At that time degradation of compounds above five benzene rings was rare and where it occured was accidental, as a result of enzymes released to degrade natural compounds for energy.

Zimtkuchen - 17 Dec 2021 21:23:49 (#18 of 22)

It was always going to happen. "Life finds a way" and all that. These new bacteria shouldn't be a problem if they can be confined to wherever they're most useful. An occasional, small, localised, thermonuclear explosion should be enough.

AdonisBlue - 17 Dec 2021 21:36:45 (#19 of 22)

How come people watch Jurassic Park and think they are Darwin.

CarlosFandango - 17 Dec 2021 21:47:31 (#20 of 22)

There's a lot of energy embodied in plastic

Which doesn't necessarily have the slightest bearing on what a bug (or anything else) might get out of digesting it.

That is simply not what embodied energy means.

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