Plastic eating 'mutant' enzyme could revolutionise recycling - polyethylene terephthalate
Scientists hope that an engineering enzyme that eats plastic may lead to a recycling revolution.
The plastic was made by British researchers.
The protein was accidentally digested when studying natural proteins.
The test shows that the laboratory
Mutant made has the super power to break down PET, one of the most popular plastic forms in the food and beverage industry.
According to the British Plastics Federation, bottles made of PET are used for 70% soft drinks, juices and mineral water sold in packaging stores and supermarkets.
Although it is considered highly recyclable, abandoned pets will last for hundreds of years in the environment until it is degraded.
The new study stems from bacteria found at the Japan waste recycling center, which has evolved the ability to use plastics as a raw material.
These bugs use a natural enzyme called PETase to digest PET bottles and containers.
In studying the molecular structure of PETase, the British team inadvertently created a powerful new version of this protein.
Professor John McGhan, chief scientist at Portsmouth University, said: "Unexpected discoveries often play an important role in basic scientific research, and our findings here are no exception.
"Although this improvement is modest, this unexpected finding suggests that there is room for further improvement in these enzymes, which brings us closer and closer to recycling solutions
Piles of discarded plastics.
Portsmouth scientists worked with American colleagues to give PETase a strong X-
The beam is located in the Diamond Light Source synchronous accelerator facility in Havel, Oxfordshire. X-
By accelerating the electrons around the circular tunnel, 10 billion times more light is generated in the facility than the sun. The X-
Light can be used to reveal the fine structure of materials and biological molecules until the level of a single atom.
Scientists use the PETase blueprint provided by the Diamond Light Source to re-
The active region of the molecule was designed.
The result is a mutant protein with enhanced ability to attack plastics.
In addition to digesting PET, this new enzyme can also degrade biodegradable substances-polyethylene ester
The basic form of plastic is considered a replacement for glass beer bottles.
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor McGeehan, director of the Institute of biology and biomedical sciences at Portsmouth School of Biological Sciences, said: "Few people can predict that since plastics became popular in the 1960 s, huge pieces of plastic waste floating in the ocean will be found, or washed up on once pristine beaches around the world.