The waxworm is capable of degrading plastic! Their saliva breaks down polyethylene, one of the most used plastics

The wax worm is capable of degrading plastic. #CSIC researchers have discovered that some enzymes present in the saliva of these insects break down polyethylene, one of the most used plastics.

Researchers discovered in 2017 that this species of worm, the Galleria mellonella lepidoptera, is capable of breaking down plastic (polyethylene), and now they have discovered how it does it.

The saliva of the wax worm has enzymes that are capable of degrading the plastic in “just an hour”, with which they could become allies of the applications of treatment or recycling of plastic waste, according to research carried out by a team of investigations of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).

Specifically, the finding indicates that the saliva of this species has enzymes from the phenol oxidase family that initiate the degradation of polyethylene in a short time and at room temperature. These enzymes are the first and only known capable of degrading polyethylene plastic without pretreatment, according to the director of the study, the CSIC researcher at the Center for Biological Research (CIB-CSIC) Federica Bertocchini.

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The results of the work that she has received funding from the Roechling Foundation (Germany) are pending review, although it has been published in pre-print in the BioRxiv repository.


h/t 16 Blocks


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