Researchers at the University of Portsmouth, UK have made a breakthrough in breaking down waste with the discovery of a mutant enzyme. The newly created enzyme was created by accident while tweaking a bacterium discovered in a Japanese waste dump. The original bacterium was first discovered in 2016 and was chosen for study as it had naturally evolved to eat plastic, but the tweaks made by researchers furthered this ability in the bacterium to the point where it could even break down polyethylene terephthalate.
The discovery of this new mutant enzyme could lead to amazing strides in waste management as plastic, which takes centuries to break-down, could be fully consumed in just a matter of days. John McGeehan, the lead professor on this research, has spoken to the future use of this mutant enzyme as it would allow manufacturers to turn plastic back into plastic in a way that reduces harm to the environment.
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