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bug-tastic: they\'ve found moths that eat plastic bags

by:Keke Jewelry     2019-09-18
Researchers at the University of Cambridge believe that a moth who likes to chew plastic and does not like to chew plastic may help cure serious recycling headaches.
The larvae of the wax moth usually thrive on beeswax, which makes them an enemy that European beekeepers hate.
But an accidental discovery suggests that they will also be happy to chew the plastic.
The Gru is placed in a plastic bag and will soon fill it with holes, just as the wool jumper is attacked by a cloaked moth caterpillar.
Understanding how larvae eat plastic can provide a biotechnology approach to handling bags and packaging, scientists say, a major source of land and marine pollution.
Dr. Paul bompele, an international team member from the University of Cambridge, said: \"If an enzyme is responsible for this chemical process, mass reproduction using biotechnology methods should be achievable.
\"This discovery may be an important tool to help remove the accumulated polyethylene plastic waste from landfill sites and oceans.
The caterpillar, known as the \"wax worm\", is commercially bred for fishing bait and lives as a parasite in the wild as a colony of bees.
A member of the research team from Spain, who happened to raise bees, found that bees had a preference for plastics while clearing the hive pests.
Dr. Federica betosini, from Santander Cantabria Institute of Biomedical and biotechnology, put the larvae in a plastic shopping bag and later found it full of holes. In a follow-
In the up test in Cambridge, 100 wax worms were released from a plastic bag in a British supermarket.
After only 40 minutes, the holes began to appear, consuming 92 mg of plastic in 12 hours.
Caterpillars work much faster than bacteria, and in previous experiments, bacteria degrade only 0 per day. 13 mg of plastic.
Polyethylene is mainly used for packaging, accounting for 40 of the total demand for plastic products throughout Europe.
As many waste plastics in Europe are buried in landfill sites.
In the ocean, plastic waste is broken down into particles, posing a serious health risk to fish that consume plastic waste.
Every year, about 8 million tons of waste plastic from all over the world is finally overwhelmed by the ocean.
\"Plastic is a global problem,\" said Dr. Bertocchini.
Garbage is now everywhere, including rivers and seas.
\"Polyethylene, in particular, is highly resistant and therefore difficult to degrade naturally.
Beeswax consists of fat compounds and chains
Scientists say it\'s like the chemical structure of polyethylene.
Wax worm larvae are thought to digest beeswax and plastic in the same way by breaking down their chemical bonds.
Research published in the Journal of Contemporary Biology shows that grugru converts polyethylene into an unbound molecule of ethylene glycol.
The holes in plastic bags are not just caused by chewing.
\"Caterpillar is not just eating plastic without changing the chemical composition of plastic --
\"We found that the polymer chain in polyethylene plastic was actually broken by wax worms.
\"The Caterpillar will produce something that breaks the chemical bond, either in its spit gland or in its intestines producing symbiotic bacteria.
\"Our next step will be to try to identify the molecular process in this reaction and see if we can separate the responsible enzyme.
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