Discovery of a Bacterium that Degrades and Assimilates Poly(ethylene terephthalate)

neurological, bacterium

A group of researchers comprising Keio University Faculty of Science and Technology Assistant Professor Shosuke Yoshida (currently a researcher for the ERATO Akiyoshi Bio-Nanotransporter Project at the Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University), Keio University Associate Professor Kenji Miyamoto, Kyoto Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus Kohei Oda, and Professor Emeritus Yoshiharu Kimura, conducted a collaborative research project with Teijin Limited and ADEKA Corporation and discovered a bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) and were able to identify the decomposition mechanism.

PET is used extensively throughout the world, commonly in clothing and plastic bottles. Most PET products simply end up in landfills, never entering a recycling process, and it was generally believed that PET is resistant to microbial degradation.

However, the present research overturns certain aspects of this commonly accepted theory, and the findings are expected to contribute greatly to the development of bio-recycling technology of PET waste products.

The results were published in the American science journal, Science, on March 10, 2016