Scientists Found an Edible Mushroom That Eats Plastic, and It Could Clean Our Landfills


Something that characterized the society nowadays is its dependence on plastic. People use it for preserving foods, transporting water, healthcare, and medicine, or in one word you can find it almost anywhere in some form.

The plastic is a double-edged sword, and besides all benefits that people enjoy, the massive amounts are floating through the depths of the ocean, piling up in landfills, and destroying the water supplies. As it is growing on a yearly basis, plastic poses a mortal threat like no other materials.

Fortunately, something that could be changed by a new discovery, a mushroom that is capable of surviving on plastic alone.  In 2012 by Yale University students discovered Pestalotiopsis microspore, which is a rare species of fungus, found in the Amazon’s rainforest. This mushroom is eaten polyurethane and converts it into pure, organic matter.

Along with the plastic destroying it can also survive without oxygen, which can help in the cleaning of the landfills – from the bottom-up.

According to Epoch Times, this idea may stretch even further, as instead dumping the trash at centralized landfills the community can have mushroom composting centers, which will surely speed things up dramatically. 

The experts found many other mushrooms which have the same characteristics and are even safe for human consumption. The leader of the study Katharina Unger from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, placed the oyster mushrooms and a few other varieties in agar cups with plastic waste, holding them in a climate controlled dome-shaped environment.

After roughly a month, the mushroom’s roots had converted the plastic into biomass food substance, which is edible and completely free of toxins from the polyurethane.

It was free of plastic and actually had an appealing taste, with the smell of anise or licorice. This is for the first time in history to make plastic trash part of the food chain, in a healthy way.

The experts from the Utrecht University expects that the digestion will go much quicker once processes are fully researched and optimized.

The benefits of this discovery can be limitless. This is a reason why this research has since stretched even further, so “mushroom bricks” were on display at the State of the World’s Fungi 2018 event in Kew Gardens, London.

Can you imagine a home built from a sustainable, natural building material?

Eliminating or just managing plastic should be a priority for the community as it is one of the hardest challenges that the world will most likely face. It is expected that with the help of a small mushroom, the natural rate of decomposition can be reduced from 400 years to just a few months.

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