Parengyodontium album

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A marine fungus called Parengyodontium album has been discovered to break down plastic polyethene (PE) in the ocean.

About Parengyodontium album:

  • It is a marine fungus that can break down plastic polyethene (PE), the most common plastic in the ocean.
  • It was discovered by Marine microbiologists from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).
  • In this bioremediation process, the PE-derived carbon is converted into the fungal biomass of P. album, serving as its energy source. 
  • Initial photodegradation of PE by UV sunlight is crucial for this process. It makes the fungus useful to degrade the floating oceanic plastic litter. 
  • Humans produce over 400 billion kilograms of plastic annually, much of which ends up in the ocean.

Considering fungi as the ‘masters of degradation’ that they utilise a plethora of digestive enzymes for plastic degradation, researchers expect that there could be more plastic-degrading fungi in the deeper parts of the ocean.

Q1. What is the bioremediation process?

Bioremediation is a process that uses microorganisms, fungi, or plants to break down pollutants in soil, water, or air, converting them into non-toxic substances through natural biological processes.

Source: Fungus Breaks Down Plastic Polyethylene in the Ocean