A fungus found in the Ecuador jungles can survive on polyurethane.
There has been a lot of talk about polyurethane lately, and for good reason. The substance is in pretty much everything from garden hoses to furniture to tires to Spandex. The problem with this material is that it isn’t biodegradable. Or, at least that’s what we thought.
A group of Yale students ventured into the jungles of Ecuador and found a fungus that will actually eat polyurethane. Not only will the fungus, Pestalotiopsis microspor, survive on a diet of nothing but polyurethane, but it can do it in an anaerobic environment, like a landfill.
The students and their professor, Jonathan Russell, published their findings in “Applied and Environmental Microbiology,” saying that the enzymes in the organism are “a promising source of biodiversity from which to screen for metabolic properties useful for bioremediation."