Scientists engineer plastic-eating enzyme - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Scientists engineer plastic-eating enzyme

A new substance that degrades plastic could help address environmental pollution. (Source: Pixabay) A new substance that degrades plastic could help address environmental pollution. (Source: Pixabay)

(RNN) – A new substance that "eats" plastic could take a major bite out of global pollution.

Research scientists have engineered an enzyme that digests common plastics, a discovery that came about by accident.

The scientists unintentionally engineered the enzyme while studying PETase, a recently discovered natural enzyme that digests a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, which can exist in the environment for centuries.

Researchers think the enzyme evolved in a Japanese waste recycling center.

As they studied the structure of the natural enzyme, the scientists realized they’d accidentally engineered a new enzyme that was even better at breaking down plastic than the one they’d been studying.  

"Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception," said Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth, which conducted the research, along with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Now the researchers are trying to improve the new enzyme so they can put it to work eating up all the plastic out there.

The teams’ findings were first published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.”

Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • More storiesMore>>

  • Michigan water activist, 6 others win environmental prize

    Michigan water activist, 6 others win environmental prize

    Monday, April 23 2018 12:25 AM EDT2018-04-23 04:25:23 GMT
    Monday, April 23 2018 8:09 AM EDT2018-04-23 12:09:52 GMT
    (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File). FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2016, file photo, Flint, Mich. resident LeeAnne Walters testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The woman who exposed the Flint, Michigan, lead disaster is among seven people around the world who ar...(AP Photo/Molly Riley, File). FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2016, file photo, Flint, Mich. resident LeeAnne Walters testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The woman who exposed the Flint, Michigan, lead disaster is among seven people around the world who ar...
    A woman who played a key role in exposing the lead-tainted water disaster in Flint, Michigan, is among seven people to win a Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism.More >>
    A woman who played a key role in exposing the lead-tainted water disaster in Flint, Michigan, is among seven people to win a Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism.More >>
  • Apple unveils iPhone-disassembling robot in time for Earth Day

    Apple unveils iPhone-disassembling robot in time for Earth Day

    Sunday, April 22 2018 2:54 AM EDT2018-04-22 06:54:58 GMT
    Sunday, April 22 2018 3:03 AM EDT2018-04-22 07:03:39 GMT
    To mark Earth Day 2018, Apple has unveiled “Daisy,” a robot that takes apart iPhones. (Source: Apple Inc./CNN)To mark Earth Day 2018, Apple has unveiled “Daisy,” a robot that takes apart iPhones. (Source: Apple Inc./CNN)
    To mark Earth Day 2018, Apple has unveiled “Daisy,” a robot that takes apart iPhones. (Source: Apple Inc./CNN)To mark Earth Day 2018, Apple has unveiled “Daisy,” a robot that takes apart iPhones. (Source: Apple Inc./CNN)

    To mark Earth Day 2018, Apple has unveiled “Daisy,” a robot that takes apart iPhones.

    More >>

    To mark Earth Day 2018, Apple has unveiled “Daisy,” a robot that takes apart iPhones.

    More >>
  • UK mulls plan to ban plastic straws and cut waste

    UK mulls plan to ban plastic straws and cut waste

    Thursday, April 19 2018 11:56 AM EDT2018-04-19 15:56:10 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 1:28 PM EDT2018-04-19 17:28:22 GMT
    (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file). FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2018 file photo, earthmovers push mountains of garbage as seagulls fly over the country's largest landfill at Fyli on the outskirts of Athens. The British government is planning a ...(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file). FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2018 file photo, earthmovers push mountains of garbage as seagulls fly over the country's largest landfill at Fyli on the outskirts of Athens. The British government is planning a ...
    The British government wants to take action to ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds _ and is urging other Commonwealth nations to follow suit.More >>
    The British government wants to take action to ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds _ and is urging other Commonwealth nations to follow suit.More >>
Powered by Frankly