Search - School / College / Institute

Fungi Contributes to Decomposition of Plastics

With an increase in the world population, the garbage that people produce is also on an increase. The accumulation of this garbage has led to increasing amounts of plastic pollution around the world. There is an immediate need of methods that can be employed in decomposition of this garbage.

Queensland scientist and mycologist Dr. Sandra Tuszynska conducted a study and found that the humble fungi can play a very important role in eliminating the world’s wastes. She revealed that fungi have the capacity to both replace and decompose plastics. While conducting her study, she took some coffee grounds while returning from her office. She placed them in the fridge. Later, she inoculated the coffee grounds with oyster mushroom mycelium, i.e. she added coffee grounds to culture of oyster mushroom mycelium. She examined that the oyster mushroom mycelium colonised the coffee grounds totally by discharging their enzymes. She found that these enzymes digested the grounds completely leaving it all white and sturdy. It happened when the mycelium decomposed the wood, insects and other matter present in the grounds. She then baked it and it almost took the shape of a bowl. As a result, she concluded that the beauty of fungi lies in the fact that it can decompose woods and plastics that cause a lot of pollution. The value of fungi should not be underestimated at all. Fungi, which is like a thick mass layer, is also known as the internet of the woods. It is called so because it forms a connection between trees and helps in passing food and communicating information in times of stress from one corner of the forest to another. As a result the fungi stimulate the defence mechanism that excretes enzymes causing decomposition. Therefore, in a way, fungi make the survival of forests possible.

By: Anuja Arora