Plastic-munching bacteria isolated by high school student

Isn’t it nice when reality follows a TOG discussion on plastic bioremediation? A high school student in Canada may have isolated microbes that degrade plastic bags. As far as I can tell from the not-so-coherent news article, Daniel Burd created a bacteria-friendly environment (warm, wet, and nutritious) and seeded it with ground-up plastic bags. He then isolated plastic-eating strains and cultured them together with plastic. The most successful strain reduced the plastic’s mass by 32%.

Of course (assuming Burd’s results are reproducible), there is a ways to go before we can have giant vats of plastic-munching bacteria. Bacteria that can easily be grown in small, liter-sized cultures are often difficult to grow on industrial scales, and some bacteria can produce nasty byproducts (like methyl iodide, a greenhouse gas). It’s impossible to assess Burd’s results based on a news article – maybe he’ll continue his hot streak and publish in peer-reviewed journal. Still, plastic eating bacteria! From a high school student! Very promising, indeed.

Thanks to Sam for the link.

About these ads

28 Responses to Plastic-munching bacteria isolated by high school student

  1. Eric says:

    Sounds promising!
    Hopefully the bacteria has a strong taste for #3-## which so many recycling programs refuse to accept, yet which so many packagers are using.

    Gotta love those high school projects!
    I’ve got one I posting as soon as the journal paper is released with a high schooler as one of the authors.

  2. Eric – I was under the impression that most recycling programs only accept 1 and 2. So everything 3 and up would need to be munchable. (unless that it what you typed and it got horribly mangled.) Very neat to be publishing with a high school student!

  3. Shruti Chakravarty says:

    An excellent idea, this is!
    It will surely give Mother Earth some hope to survive longer in the future. Since the maintaining costs are low, hope, even the smallest country tries to implement this method.
    Burd is a GENIUS!!

  4. This is very compelling. We manufacture various plastics and to know that people are working on a bacteria that can decompose the plastics makes me feel better about my job.

    Obviously, plastics play an important role in our society and offer a great deal of benefits. Learning that someone as young as a high school student is working to provide new solutions for how we deal with the byproducts of the plastic industry is fantastic!

  5. Also,

    I’m just curious. Do you have any good links to read about why it is difficult to grow bacteria on a massive scale? That seems to be the biggest issue for these types of solutions.

    As a manufacturer of plastics, we try to stay abreast of the latest technologies for not just making the plastic materials, but also how to deal with them after they have served in their application.

    Would his solution work with Melamine and Phenolic? Those are two materials we do a lot of work with.

    Thanks.

  6. Emily says:

    This is also promising…
    A Review of Plastic Waste Biodegradation
    Critical Reviews in Biotechnology, 25:243–250, 2005
    Copyright c Taylor & Francis Inc.
    ISSN: 0738-8551 print / 1549-7801 online
    DOI: 10.1080/07388550500346359

    and

    Implication of Arthrobacter and Enterobacter species for polycarbonate degradation
    Reeta Goela,, M.G.H. Zaidib, Ravindra Sonia, Kusum Lataa, Yogesh S. Shouchec 2007

    I suppose the issue is not so much isolating the bacteria (a high school student could do it!) as it is creating an environment that will allow them to degrade the wide variety of plastics that exist. It’s an awfully complex problem.

  7. Banwari says:

    Really this is great opportunity for every people because plastic cause many of problem.I want to introduce with my self because am also collect
    research papers about it i want create a noble microorganism which is highly degradable of plastic.
    Hope so you will provide some of clue regards to this topic.
    Thanks

  8. Boggan says:

    This phenomena was discovered back in 2001 in australia by dr Philipa Ewans, queensland university. She found bacteria deep down in the earths crust, 2.5 to 5 miles down. It should be said however that since the smallest bacteria was only 20 nanometers in size and the largest up to 200+ nanometers. (She named them “nanobs”) They found however that after they had cultured the bactería that when put in a styrofoam petriedish without any other media, they ate clean through the dish. Just thought id mention it, i mean if someone way back then found plastic eating bacteria, why all the hype about this kids “discovery”? clearly it has already been proved that bacteria eat plastic. The controversy around her finding was not about their plastic eating properties however, it was the claim that they contained dna and that their size wouldnt allow for life to exist. I dont know where her reserach took her, havent really bothered to find out, but it would be cool if she proved it was alive however, it would bring credence to the research done over the mars rock that they say contained fosilized bacteria that was about the same sizerange as philipas plast eating nanobs. If someone has more information about the nanobs id like to know, if so life has been found to exist in around the 20 nanometer scale! Greetings from sweden.

  9. Boggan says:

    Dr. Philippa Uwins is the correct spelling of her name and the correct spelling is “nanobes”. Sorry for the crappy spelling, its 5.19 in the morning at the moment here in sweden and im a bit sleepy. More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanobe

    Although almost nothing is mentioned about their plastic eating properties, there is a documentary about her efforts and struggle to gain acceptance in the scientific community, in wich the nanobes plastic eating abilities are shown and explained. However not in very great detail im afraid, more information is needed.

    I hope this information was useful to someone, i made this comment largely because i am bored and cannot sleep :).

    If someone has more information about this phenomena id really like to know, so please post replies if you know anything. Everyone have a nice summer, im off to bed. /Boggan

  10. It’s truly very complicated in this active life to listen news on TV, thus I only use internet for that reason, and take the most recent news.

  11. I guess depends on plastic type too?

  12. I’m interested in fashion and I want to start a blog but I have no idea where to start or how to get people interested in my blog. Any ideas welcome..

  13. I’m wanting to download some videos from various different sites like youtube, Google videos, and a few other sites for my entertainment at home. I’ve downloaded an extension from Media Converter for Firefox, but I don’t see it anywhere. Can someone recommend an extension to allow me to download online videos?.

  14. tdkmwjno@gmail.com says:

    I want to start a blog where i can just type anything that comes to mind. Kind of like a diary but not as personal. Any good websites where I can start my own blog for free and where lots of people see it???? Please and much thanks appreciated!! :).

  15. I have clients and associates that would find the article helpful. Is it ok to forward the article without getting into trouble? Usually the articles are sent out to the public as a newsletter or an rss feed. I am not changing it or hiding the author, simple sending and saying “this might be of interest to you.”.

  16. I just need to know how to get a website started. I want to make a fan site for a new band. I know that I have to pay for a domain, but I’m confused about how to purchase & build a website. Help please? Thanks in advance! (:. Thanks everyone! (:.

  17. I really love the sciences, especially chemistry and physics. But I also love the creative aspect of the spectrum, such as writing and books. I really want to write. Would it be smart to minor in English or Creative Writing but major in the sciences? Does it look acceptable? I’m new to college stuff, and I’m curious. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to advance my scientific or creative knowledge! I’m a Junior in high school..

  18. I’m going to do a presentation about thebillboard website . I need some informations about how is started ? and if there is a story behind its starting , and I need to know why it’s important for the media’s life ? Alos, what does it do ?.

  19. Im curious about how much it costs to start websites such as Facebook or Twitter. I have been thinking about starting a website for a while now, but i feel as though the initial prices that website design firms give you are for a very low tech and sparsely populated website..

  20. Hey I was wondering if anyone could tell me which universities are the best (anywhere) for creative writing? I’m not interested in any universities in ontario because they dont offer the type of courses I want. I was also wondering if maybe there are schools specifically for creative writing? Please help me out, I have to apply in Dec, and I have no idea where I’m going, I just know that I want to write, because writing is my life, and I cant see myself doing anything else. Thanks..

  21. How do I add the Google Analytics code to a Joomla website?

  22. I just bought a new computer and would like the same settings I have on my other computer. How do I go about doing this? The one thing I want to change in firefox on my new computer is when I type a website in the address bar I would like it to show my history instead of my bookmarks. I changed it before but I can’t remember what I did..

  23. Would it be smart to minor in creative writing and major in biochemistry?

  24. I want to know how to get the CSS code for rounded corners for my header, post background, and sidebar background! It’s for my blogspot blog. PLEASE tell me how to get the css code!.

  25. I have a wordpress blog now, but I can’t figure out how to get readers into there! I have been using myspace and it’s been great, subscriptions like crazy, but a lot of them don’t have wordpress…so no leads there. Besides, I am posting the same info to both, so it’s not much of a point of them getting one. How can I increase my wordpress readership? I already utilize tags, but I still only got about 89 views in two weeks. . . . Thanks in advance–serious answers only, please!.

  26. I’m not great with html, but I think there’s a simple way to add a byline to the beginning of my blog posts under the title. Is there anywhere I can find a step-by-step guide on how to do this?. The blog is set up on WordPress, and is using the pilcrow theme – I hope this helps?.

  27. Hi I am trying to preview articles from blogger on a separate site, where the most recent article would show up and could link to the blog itself. I have googled enough and read about rss. I can code html, xml etc. I would really appreciate any help.

  28. How to get my site at Blogspot from Thai to English?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: