〒180-0006 東京都武蔵野市中町2-3-5 IIHA武蔵野1階
Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Plastic-munching superworms offer hope for recycling
Polystyrene is a versatile plastic used to make a wide variety of consumer products, such as food packaging, laboratory ware, appliances, toys, electronics, and automobile parts. In short, it is plastic that needs to be recycled or reused. Recently, researchers in Australia found that the Zophobas morio, commonly known as superworm or kingworm, which is used to feed reptile pets, can eat and digest polystyrene. They think the plastic is digested through the species’ gut enzyme, proteins that help speed up metabolism, or chemical reactions. Some may think an army of superworms will help reduce plastic waste, but it is not the superworm that the researchers are interested in but its enzyme. Once they identify which enzyme digest more plastic than others, they can then reproduce it for recycling. Of course, there will be technical and economic challenges ahead in identifying and using the particular enzyme and using them, but the world desperately needs to reduce plastic waste.
Enjoy reading the article and learning about this plastic-eating superworm.