Plastic degrading bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 isolated
Japanese researchers have successfully isolated a bacterium species Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 capable of breaking down plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polyester.
Their results were published in the journal Science.
- Ideonella sakaiensis relies on PET film as a primary source of carbon for growth. It is capable of completely degrading a thin film of PET in a short span of six weeks at 30°C.
- The bacterium species uses two enzymes in sequence to break down the highly biodegradable-resistant polymer PET.
- First enzyme helps the bacterium to adhere to the PET and produce an intermediate substance through process of hydrolysis.
- The second enzyme then works with water and acts on this intermediate substance. It produces the 2 monomers ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid that are used for making PET through polymerisation.
- Applications: The bacteria could potentially be used in industrial recycling processes without having any adverse impact on the environment. It can replace or augment the current mechanical recycling plastic process.