22.7 C
Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Stomach that: Liquid from cow stomachs digests plastic

Latest News

COVID update December 3: One new case and advice for international travellers

One new case of COVID-19 was reported for Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) in the 24 hours to...

Other News

Want to make your own nest box and help with bushfire recovery on Friday?

Conservation Volunteers Australia are running a nest-building workshop in one of Australia’s most biodiverse hotspots, the Nightcap Range, ‘to create homes and hope for wildlife’.

Where is agriculture going in the Northern Rivers?

As the climate emergency bites, and the population grows, farmers are becoming more innovative than ever. The passion and imagination of the Northern Rivers agricultural sector makes this a place to watch.

Pryce Allsop seeks reelection for Tweed Council

Cr Pryce Allsop was a Conservative member of the previous Tweed Shire Council and hails from Murwillumbah.

Liberal candidate for Tweed Council James Owen seeks ‘for better outcomes for our community’

James Owen is a Liberal Party candidate from Casuarina who has served on the Tweed Shire Council for five...

Today is International Day of People with Disability

This language trend around People With a Disability has tended to emphasise the disability rather than the person, which can lead to derogatory labelling, depersonalisation or impersonal, collective references.

The no-dam business case

There are groups standing for election next Saturday who are composed mainly of high profile business people. Many people...

Brought to you by The Echo and Cosmos Magazine


Polyesters can break down in rumen fluid. Photo Shutterstock

Bacteria from the stomach of a cow can digest some plastic, removing it from the environment, according to a team of Austrian researchers.

The polymers that plastics are made from usually aren’t digestible by ordinary organisms – be they animal, plant or bacteria – meaning the molecules accumulate in the environment very easily. While there has been some success in recent years finding microbes that can digest plastic polymers, the idea has so far been focussed on individual organisms, usually breaking down individual plastics.

This new research, published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, has found a combination of bacteria from cow stomachs to be more effective at digesting three different polyesters, including the common and long-lasting polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.

The researchers, who are based at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, collected liquid from rumens (one of the four components of a cow’s stomach) from a slaughterhouse.

‘A huge microbial community lives in the rumen reticulum and is responsible for the digestion of food in the animals,’ says Doris Ribitsch, corresponding author on the study.

‘We suspected that some biological activities could also be used for polyester hydrolysis.’

Hydrolysis – using water to break down molecules – is an effective method of dealing with polymers, because it divides the long, difficult-to-digest molecules into smaller pieces. These molecules can then be easily processed further by the cow’s stomach liquid, or by other organisms in the environment, in the same way as their naturally-occurring counterparts in plants are.

The researchers incubated three different polyester plastics – PET, and two biodegradable plastics, PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate) and PEF (polyethylene furanoate) – in the rumen liquid. All three of these plastics are made exclusively from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms – meaning that once hydrolysed, they can ultimately become things like sugars, water, or carbon dioxide.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

4 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Last mayoral candidates Q and A: are you a landlord?

Here at The Echo we have seen and heard the word ‘housing’ come up time and again throughout the local government election campaign period, whether it’s from candidates or other voters.

On the ground work assists evicted women 

We know the region has some of the highest rents, and highest housing costs in Australia. We all know that this has virtually eliminated affordable housing. We hear the stories of women and children being evicted, of couch surfing and living in cars.

What do the Tweed Council candidates stand for?

The final day of voting for your local Tweed Shire Councill candidates is Saturday 4 December at a venue near you.

Today is International Day of People with Disability

This language trend around People With a Disability has tended to emphasise the disability rather than the person, which can lead to derogatory labelling, depersonalisation or impersonal, collective references.