Scientists create a “super enzyme” that eats plastic to tackle the pollution crisis


Scientists have developed a so-called “super enzyme” that eats plastic, and they hope to make a big leap forward in finding solutions to tackle the pollution crisis, as the reinforced protein consists of two enzymes produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles, known as Ideonella sakaiensis ، Said Professor John McGeehan, Director of the Center for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) At the University of Portsmouth, unlike natural degradation, which can take hundreds of years, the super enzyme is able to convert plastic into its parent materials, or building blocks, within a few days.

“At the moment, we are getting these building blocks from fossil resources like oil and gas, which is really not sustainable, but if we can add enzymes to plastic waste, we can start breaking them down in a matter of days,” McGeehan added.

According to the British “Metro” website, McGeehan explained that the process will also allow plastic manufacturing and endless use, which reduces our dependence on fossil resources.. .

And in 2018, Professor McGeehan and his team accidentally discovered that an engineered version of an enzyme, known as BAS PETase I managed to break the plastic in a matter of days.

As part of their current study, which was published in a journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , Mix the team PETase With the second enzyme, called MHETase And they found that “the digestion of plastic bottles literally doubles”, then the researchers linked the two enzymes together in the laboratory, using genetic engineering.

Professor McGeehan said: “This allowed us to create a super enzyme six times faster than an enzyme. PETase The original alone, and this is a big leap forward because the plastic that ends up in our oceans today will take hundreds of years to decompose naturally, and eventually through sunlight and wave movement, it will start to split into smaller and smaller parts – and we’ll end up with microplastics, which is a serious problem for organisms. The living that lives in the environment. “


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