Can bacteria capture and eliminate microplastics?

Can bacteria capture and eliminate microplastics? [ad_1]

Scientists at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have discovered a approach to make use of bacteria’s pure stickiness to tug microplastics from the atmosphere. Their imaginative and prescient is that microplastics in polluted water will adhere to tape-like bacteria nets, making a plastic blob that may simply be recycled or in any other case disposed of.

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“It is imperative to develop effective solutions that trap, collect, and even recycle these microplastics to stop the ‘plastification’ of our natural environments,” mentioned Sylvia Lang Liu, the undertaking’s lead researcher. Microplastics are the tiny plastic fragments smaller than 5mm which might be continually being launched into the atmosphere from washing artificial materials and scrubbing our faces with potions containing microbeads along with the final breakdown of plastic luggage and bottles. They ultimately work their approach into the oceans, the place they endanger marine animals.

Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought

The scientists used a bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa to make a bacterial biofilm web that may lure in microplastics floating in water, entice them, then sink them to the underside. This is the place it will get actually scientific — a biofilm-dispersal gene lets researchers free the microplastics from the bacteria.

“This is a really innovative and exciting application of biofilm engineering to address the plastic pollution crisis,” mentioned Joanna Sadler, researcher at University of Edinburgh. Sadler wasn’t concerned on this examine. “One of the biggest challenges in dealing with microplastics is capturing such small particles so they can be degraded and removed from the environment. Liu and co-workers have demonstrated an elegant solution to this problem, which holds great potential to be further developed into a real-world wastewater treatment technology.”

At this level, this microplastic-trapping resolution remains to be hypothetical. It labored in a lab. But will issues go so effectively in a sewer, lake or ocean? Also, the Pseudomonas aeruginosa carries illnesses that have an effect on people, so it’s in all probability not one of the best concept for real-world tasks. Still, Liu and fellow scientists are assured they’re onto one thing with this technique. Time will inform whether or not this mannequin is scalable, what kind of surfaces are greatest for rising the biofilm, and what bacteria strains must be used.

Nicholas Tucker, a molecular microbiologist on the University of Strathclyde, mentioned, “In general, this shows that microbes can and will play a role in every stage of the life cycle of plastics.”

Via The Guardian

Image through Adobe Stock

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