Insects and Superworms Could Save the World!
Have you ever thought that insects or worms could save the world? Australian scientists say a worm species that likes to eat plastic could revolutionize the field of recycling. It has been determined that Zophoas morio, better known as superworms, can survive on a regime consisting of polystyrene, the raw material of plastic.
Scientists think this worm species is able to digest plastic thanks to an enzyme in its gut. One of the researchers who conducted the research, Dr. Chris Rinke says this finding could revolutionize the field of recycling. “Superworms are like little recycling plants. After grinding the polystyrene in their mouths, they can present it to the bacteria in their gut,” Rinke said.
In this study, scientists from the University of Queensland applied a different diet to three different types of worms for three weeks, and it was observed that the polystyrene-fed species gained weight. The research team saw that the superworm was able to digest polystyrene and styrene raw materials thanks to the enzymes in its gut.
Polystyrene and styrene are frequently encountered in products such as car parts and insulation materials.
Detection of Suction in the Intestine of Superworms is Desired
The results of the research are not expected at this stage to lead to the creation of giant earthworm fields that will also act as recycling facilities. Instead, it is hoped that the enzyme in the gut of worms will be detected and mass-produced for recycling. According to the study, published in the journal Microbial Genomics, the plastic can be destroyed first by being mechanically disintegrated and then impregnated with the enzyme.
Dr. “The materials from this reaction can then be used by other microbes to produce bioplastics,” says Rinke. Some studies in the past have shown that certain types of worms can consume polystyrene. Hope arose for a solution to the plastics crisis: UN members will start negotiations for an international agreement
But according to Professor Colin Jackson of the Australian National University, the latest study goes one step beyond the rest. “This research helps us understand how the enzyme found in the guts of superworms dissolves plastic at the molecular level,” says Jackson.
There are studies that bacteria and fungi can also be used to dissolve plastics. But many are skeptical of the commercial viability of such techniques. “The size and practical application of research like this is always tricky,” says Professor Jackson.
So, what do you think? Share your thoughts with us!