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Discovery of a kind of worm capable of biodegrading plastics

Since the industrial era began many wastes have been dumped into the sea. Bringing as consequence the environmental contamination. One of the most damaging materials of all is plastic. It takes centuries to biodegrade and it accumulates more and more in nature.

Scientists have joined their research to find ways to dispose of it or recycle it as soon as possible. And that’s why they’re now celebrating the discovery of a caterpillar capable of eating polyethylene.

The discovery that could change the world

Recent research has alerted the international community to the issue of global warming. And on the need to start creating policies that encourage recycling. Among the first regulations that were agreed was the progressive elimination of plastic and its derivatives. This is why many companies have decreased the amount of polyethylene in their products. But this is not enough, so several beekeepers came up with a solution.

The research team led by Federica Bertocchini, a beekeeper expert in eliminating parasitic pests, has come up against an incredible discovery: fishing bait farming can be capable of rapidly biodegrading polyethylene. This type of larvae, better known as Gelleria mellonella, come from various ecosystems, but are almost always seen within bee colonies.

Gelleria-mellonella

The researchers were very interested in this larva when they saw its qualities. In order to demonstrate the capabilities of this animal, experts from the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria and specialists from the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Cambridge met to carry out different tests. One of them consisted of placing an estimated 100 wax worms in a timed test where they were inside a supermarket bag, the results were very satisfactory: after 40 minutes and the bag had holes.

High hopes for worm capable of eating plastic

Taking into account the duration of other discoveries to degrade plastic, the larvae represent a rather hopeful advance. Since they only need an estimated 12 hours to remove 12 grams of plastic. On top of that, these worms also have the ability to transform polyethylene into ethylene glycol. That it is a compound in liquid and thick form that resembles that of a plastic of totally natural origin.

worm degrading plastic

The researchers were very interested in this larva when they saw its qualities. In order to demonstrate the capabilities of this animal, experts from the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria and specialists from the Department of Biochemistry of the University of Cambridge met to carry out different tests.

One of them consisted of placing an estimated 100 wax worms in a timed test where they were inside a supermarket bag, the results were very satisfactory: after 40 minutes and the bag had holes.

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