Marine fungus can break down floating plastic pollutants

A plastic particle (red) is colonized by a marine fungus Parengyodontium album

Annika Vaksmaa/NIOZ

A fungus found on garbage floating in the North Pacific may break down the most abundant type of plastic that ends up in the sea.

In laboratory experiments, Annika Vaksmaa of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Marine Research and colleagues showed that the white, filamentous fungus can effectively degrade one of the most harmful plastics, polyethylene, provided that the plastic has been previously exposed to UV radiation. e.g. from sunlight.

UV radiation…