What Can We Do with a Plastic-Eating Bacterium? An Interview with NPR

Plastic materials such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) cannot easily be degraded by microorganisms because the plastic polymers are too large to taken up by the cell. A group of laboratories in Japan discovered and characterized an organism that secretes enzymes to degrade PET into smaller chemicals that can then be metabolized. Although such an ability holds promise as tool to degrade plastic pollution, the slow growth of these organisms limits their usefulness. John suggests that "it's certainly a move in the right direction. Having an organism that seems to be capable of biodegrading these components directly will help us develop a bioremediation technology." Hear more of John's commentary on PET degradation here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/10/469972237/this-plastic-eating-bacterium-might-help-deal-with-waste-one-day