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9th February 2022 (6 Topics)

Antarctic fuel-eating microbes & Plastic Pollution


A team of Argentine scientists is using microorganisms native to Antarctica to clean up pollution from fuels and potentially plastics in Antarctica.


Significance of the research:

The research on how the microbes could help with plastic waste could have potential for wider environmental issues.

About the research:

  • The tiny microbes munch through the waste, creating a naturally occurring cleaning system for pollution caused by diesel that is used as a source of electricity and heat for research bases in the Antarctic.
  • This work uses the potential of native microorganisms’ bacteria and fungi that inhabit the Antarctic soil, even when it is contaminated and make these microorganisms eat the hydrocarbons.
  • The team carried out bioremediation tasks, which involve cleaning soil, affected by diesel, using indigenous microorganisms and plants, a process that can be used in the austral summer and removes some 60-80% of contaminants.

How research can be helpful in tackling Plastic pollution?

The team of Argentine scientists have started to research on how the microbes could help clean up plastic waste elsewhere since both fuels and plastics are polymers, molecules made up of long chains of mainly carbon and hydrogen.











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