Microbial enzymes across the globe are evolving to degrade plastic, according to a new study. Scientists examined hundreds of samples taken from oceans and soils and found thousands of enzymes capable of degrading different kinds of plastic. The researchers behind the recent work say microbes have likely evolved in response to plastic pollution.
Plastic production has spiked in recent decades, increasing from 2 million tons in 1950 to 368 million tons in 2019. The researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden found that the number and type of enzymes matched the amount and type of plastic pollution in different locations. The study published in the journal of Microbial Ecology is the first large-scale study of bacteria’s plastic-degrading potential.
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