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Old 04-12-2012, 11:28 PM   #1
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Plastic munching mushroom

It's called "pestalotiopsis microspora"

Since the first plastic polymer polyurethane was discovered back in 1937 by I.G. Farben [3], Polyurethane, a synthetic polymer derived from the condensation of polyisocyanate and polyol widely used as a base material in various industries [2], became more and more a concern for the amounts of this type of plastic produced by the industry and the pollution generated by its disposal. Fortunately polyester polyurethane is one of the few types of plastics susceptible to degradation by natural sources, mainly biodegradation by microbial attack and enzyme degradation. However this wasn't that simple as this biodegradation required until now quite some effort to be achieved. Providentially, students of Yale University found a Fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspora, original from the Ecuadorian rain forest, able to decompose Polyurethane on a natural way.
Pestalotiopsis microspora was able to survive on an exclusive "diet" of polyurethane as it only carbon source, both in aerobic and anaerobic conditions (in the presence of air and without it). Other ways to decompose Polyurethane include the use of degrading enzymes as the esterase, derived from Comamonas acidovorans TB-35 [2], a gram negative bacteria resistant to most antibiotics.


This week we're talking about fungus two ways. One that can survive exclusively on polyurethane and another that can replace Styrofoam.

Both polyurethane and styrofoam are not biodegradable, so without a solution, all the plastic bottles and old toys we throw out every year will be sitting in landfills for centuries.

Yes, you can recycle plastic, but that just means turning it into another product and recycling hasn't sufficiently slowed the production of new plastic.

According to a Yale study, globally we produced 245 million tons of plastic in 2006, compared to only 1.5 million tons in 1950.

One of the fungi we're looking at is called pestalotiopsis microspora. It was discovered by a group of Yale researchers on an expedition in Ecuador and can subsist on polyurethane alone in airless environments, like the bottom of a landfill.

The other comes from a couple of college friends who discovered that the sticky substance on the bottom of mushrooms called mycelium could be turned into a glue and when that glue is combined with corn husks and other food byproducts it takes on a form similar to Styrofoam. Their company, Ecovative wants used Styrofoam to become mulch, not waste.

A future with less plastic and more mulch, all thanks to fungus.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:22 AM   #2
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I hope they suceed. Plastics and styrofoam are a huge waste problem.
You are here.
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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Better not get any of that shit near my gun safe.
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