Pakistani and Chinese researchers have discovered a fungus which feeds on plastic in a rubbish dump in Islamabad.

A study titled "Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Aspergillus tubingensis", authored by nine researchers from Pakistan and China ─ who stress the need for "new, safer and more effective ways to degrade waste plastic" ─ found that the fungus aspergillus tubingensis can break down non-biodegradable plastic in weeks by secreting enzymes which pull apart individual molecules.

Lead author of the study, Dr Sehroon Khan from the World Agroforestry Centre/Kunming Institute of Biology, was quoted by the World Agroforestry Centre as saying that her team had been looking for ways to degrade waste plastic that "already existed in nature".

"We decided to take samples from a rubbish dump in Islamabad, Pakistan, to see if anything was feeding on the plastic in the same way that other organisms feed on dead plant or animal matter," she said.

The study says that the fungus was tested in liquid, soil and Sabouraud Dextrose Agar (SDA) plate — that is primarily used for the isolation of dermatophytes, other fungi and yeasts — in order to discover the ideal conditions for it to be most effective.

Khan and her team discovered that while the fungus decomposed plastic in all three mediums, bio-degradation was highest when it was cultured on an SDA plate, followed by liquid and soil respectively.

According to the World Economic Forum, the fungus lives in soil but researchers say that it can also survive on plastic surfaces.

On its own, the plastic can take decades to decompose and is dangerous as it can carry carcinogens as well as other lethal pollutants.

The discovery of Aspergillus tubingensis can prove to be a solution to this threat. The fungus can be used in waste treatment plants to treat plastic particles that have polluted water supplies as well as soil.

The discovery of Aspergillus tubingensis is the most recent in the field of mycoremediation, a process that uses fungus to degrade polluting substances.

Now you can follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...
Police Lines bombing
Updated 31 Jan, 2023

Police Lines bombing

Where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front.
Oil price hike
31 Jan, 2023

Oil price hike

THE record single-day increase in petrol prices, preceded by massive currency depreciation, signifies the ...
Babar Azam’s award
31 Jan, 2023

Babar Azam’s award

BABAR Azam might not have lifted many trophies as Pakistan’s all-format captain in the last year but the star...