Of all the materials with which humans pollute nature, plastic is one of the most harmful. It ends the lives of thousands of animals, deteriorates the health of many others -including humans-, destroys ecosystems and its accumulation in the form of waste is especially worrying in the seas. But nevertheless, Five years ago Japanese scientists did a discovery for hope: an enzyme that devoured this compound.
Since that, there have been several studies that have discovered enzymes that devour plastic, and there have even been projects to make them more efficient. Now also an investigation recently revealed that there are more and more molecules of this type around the world, and which are concentrated in areas especially polluted by plastic waste, such as the South Pacific or the Mediterranean Sea.
Thus, the aforementioned research, developed by scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology, in Sweden, has found 30,000 different enzymes spread all over the planet, both on land and at sea, with the capacity to decompose 10 different types of plastics.
The authors of the study admit that it is a great surprise, since they did not expect to find so many of them in such different habitats, and they explain that, on the one hand, it is the verification of the magnitude of the problem, but, on the other, shows that nature is responding to the pressure that humans are exerting on it. However, they emphasize that too little is known about these enzymes to draw conclusions.
The aim of the Swedish university researchers with this project was to explore the global potential of microorganisms to degrade plastics. To do this,nalized samples from all over the world in order to create a catalog as complete as possible of the different enzymes of this type present in nature.