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ChemsAndCutthroats t1_j5jvnkq wrote

Some bugs have also been found that were capable of eating plastic.

I imagine after humans there will be a period where you will see all sorts of flora and fauna that have evolved to live off the waste humans left behind.


I_got_too_silly t1_j5kp1hw wrote

You know, this sort of reminds me of what happened when photosynthetic organisms first showed up on Earth. They triggered a mass extinction by filling up the atmosphere with their waste products (oxygen, which was toxic to most lifeforms at the time), until the creatures that survived maneged to evolve to live off of that waste.


ChemsAndCutthroats t1_j5kse9z wrote

Yeah I was actually thinking about The Great Oxygenation extinction event as I typed it.


DisplacedPersons12 t1_j5o1coo wrote

i believe it was a few million years after trees first evolved wooden cell structures that bacteria began breaking them down


Asakari t1_j5q2hyd wrote

You won't find a lot of coal after the appearance of fungus


Elhaym t1_j5ju3ao wrote

Discoveries like this have the dual quality of making me happy for the future but also wondering if this is the sort of thing that spirals into some type of apocalyptic scenario.


WistfulMelancholic t1_j5jvmaz wrote

Imagine infesting someone's house with bedbugs, termites AND plastic eating bacteria.. Add some flesh eating ants (yes..) and the crime is perfect.


Fleckeri t1_j5kaqbk wrote

Just wait til they learn to eat asphalt.


whiterabbit_obj t1_j5kfyad wrote

Every time a new "bacteria eating plastic" article comes up I think of the book "Mutant 59: The Plastic Eater". In which they release a virus to eat the plastic they don't want anymore but it mutates to eat all plastic.


Crazy-Factor4907 t1_j5kzuih wrote

Also makes me worry if the plastic-eating bacteria would be able to harm electronic devices.


anpoca t1_j5ld0d3 wrote

Don't quote me on this but plastic is mostly used for cases and coolers, and sometimes structural elements. Electronics are silica wafers (not plastic) with copper or gold etched onto them. We'd probably have to stop using plastic for phones and buttons and such but it's not a big change.

Besides, we have many types of plastics with wildly different chemical compositions. It's unlikely all of them will suddenly become biodegradable.


thermi t1_j5nn5dk wrote

PCBs are plastic. Glass fiber saturated with epoxy.


brasslamp t1_j5pblmv wrote

Its a weird duality, right. Like, great you can get bacteria in a lab to eat plastic or found some bacteria in a specific place that can do it. But with how pervasive micro-plastics are you'd need this bacteria to be ubiquitous across soil and water globally while also not disrupting existing micro-biomes. Otherwise its just going to be in some sort of plastics processing facility and only be used in places where government policy forces their use or a useful biproduct is created from the processing that creates a market motivation that keeps the plastic out of the trash.


Foxs-In-A-Trenchcoat t1_j5jp2pj wrote

Are the products of metabolism toxic at all?


eniteris t1_j5jtgul wrote

The paper shows that it turns into CO2.


kappakai t1_j5rixy3 wrote

Oh well that’s just great


Enigmachina t1_j5rzg4o wrote

Could be worse.

Could be better...

But could be worse. At least it isn't methane or some batty super-toxin that'll wipe out all life or anything.


snksleepy t1_j5jr0p4 wrote

Usually not. Things usually break down to basic compounds that can be used for energy, dna/cell material or respiration.


Trips-Over-Tail t1_j5kucph wrote

Does this mean I have to refrigerate my Lego?


snksleepy t1_j5jqjws wrote

Nature always finds a way


psyon t1_j5k13oh wrote

Plastic is made from oil. Oil and other hydrocarbons are a naturally occurring thing. I would guess that there has been bacteria that eats oil and things for a very long time, and it wasn't a huge leap to eat plastik


accidental_snot t1_j5k3sev wrote

I didn't read this paper, so maybe talking about the same thing. Bacteria that like plastic was found all over the floor if the Gulf of Mexico. Makes sense to me. Crude oozes up from the floor of the gulf pretty much constantly. Plastic is made from crude.


Dont_know_nothin0 t1_j5l30ce wrote

Have they studied bacteria by tar pits? Nature has a way of attracting neutralizations


oDDmON t1_j5jxsu8 wrote

If they ate plastic and pooped oil, one problem would be solved, rite?


TheRiverOtter t1_j5k8kzw wrote

This seems like a highly unlikely product, as oil has a higher chemical energy than plastic and biological processes typically convert compounds down the chemical energy gradient.

From the paper, it appears to result in CO2, which is, in the long run, probably less terrible (even if ever so slightly) than bloating all of Earth's biomass with biologically disruptive microplastics.


rambunction01 t1_j5kttuw wrote

I believe there are algae or Cyanobacteria that fix CO2 to oils


CalmToaster t1_j5lugqo wrote

I imagine the plastic lobbyists be like "see! Bacteria will just remove it from the ecosystem. No problem here." Continues to pour plastic into the oceans.


smoxy t1_j5nchno wrote

"...And if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice toward plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” Plastic… asshole."

George Carlin


FriarNurgle t1_j5na5qh wrote

Just need to introduce the bacteria into our gut biomes and we’ll finally be able to properly digest McDonalds.


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cwacasaur t1_j5mb1ix wrote

What happens to the PFAS and other plasticizers?


loop-1138 t1_j5n22in wrote

By my estimate we need a pandemic of this particular bacteria to offset plastics.


A_Light_Spark t1_j5n8w5t wrote

Now if we can train them to eat PFAS then it'd be great.


TheDraco4011 t1_j5k57er wrote

Does this mean yogurt could possibly break down microplastics in the body?


throwaway12131214121 t1_j5mfv8b wrote

No. Some bacteria can eat plastic but most can’t. On top of that, your body has lots and lots of bacteria in it already and eating yogurt doesn’t meaningfully increase that amount.