Scientists found that rumen microbes, which ferment feed in a cow’s stomach and produce fatty acids, can also break down plastics, including the common polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in food and drink packaging. Rumen microbes are found in the rumen of cows, the largest compartment of their stomach.
These researchers hope to determine the specific enzymes used by the microbes in this process, then genetically engineer the microbes to produce them in large quantities that could then be used at an industrial scale. The study, conducted by the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, is published in the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
This is not the first bacterium found to consume plastic. Ideonella sakaiensis, in enzymes secreted by some marine organisms and in certain fungi — and used in sake fermentation — also breaks down PETs.
Read more (Live Science)