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科学家发现以塑料为食的新型细菌

Scientists Discover New Bacteria that Feeds on Plastic

科学家发现以塑料为食的新型细菌

Researchers have identified a new bacterium that feeds on polyurethane, a kind of plastic that is difficult to recycle or destroy.

研究人员发现了一种以聚氨酯为食的新型细菌,聚氨酯是一种很难回收或销毁的塑料。

Scientists say the discovery could help reduce a flood of hard-to-recycle plastics that are ending up in the world’s landfills and polluting oceans.

科学家们称,这一发现能帮助减少难以回收的塑料垃圾泛滥,这些塑料正被扔到世界各地的垃圾填埋地以及污染海洋。

A team from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, found the new strain of soil bacteria. It was identified in an area that contained a large amount of plastic waste.

德国莱比锡亥姆霍兹环境研究中心的一个研究小组发现了这种新型土壤细菌菌株。它是在一个含有大量塑料垃圾的地区被发现的。

The team discovered the bacteria were feeding on polyurethane diol, a substance widely used in many different products.

该研究小组发现这种细菌以聚氨酯二醇为食,聚氨酯这种物质被广泛用于多种不同产品。

The researchers estimated that in 2015, polyurethane made up 3.5 million tons of Europe’s plastics.

研究人员估计,在2015年,欧洲用聚氨酯造出了350万吨塑料。

One problem is that recycling polyurethane requires a lot of energy. The plastic material does not melt when heated. Most polyurethane-based products end up in landfills, where they can release dangerous chemicals.

一个问题是,回收聚氨酯需要大量能源。这种塑料材料在加热时不会熔化。大多数聚氨酯类产品最终会到了垃圾填埋地,在那里它们会释放出危险的化学物质。

The team found that the bacterium, identified as Pseudomonas putida, can produce enzymes that eat away at polyurethanes. This would make it possible to break down the material in the environment.

研究小组发现,这种被认定为是恶臭假单胞菌的细菌,可以产生吞噬聚氨酯的酶。这将使分解环境中的聚氨酯成为可能。

The results were recently reported in a study in the publication Frontiers in Microbiology.

该研究结果报告最近被发表在《微生物学前沿》杂志上。

Hermann Heipieper helped write the report. He said in a statement the finding “represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle (polyurethane) products."

赫尔曼·赫比伯协助撰写了这份报告。他在一份声明中说,这一发现“代表着能重复利用难以回收的(聚氨酯)产品的重要一步。”

The research is part of a European Union program that seeks to find useful microorganisms. The goal is to identify living things that can help turn oil-based plastics into substances that can be broken down biologically.

该研究是欧盟寻找有益微生物计划的一部分。其目的是找出能帮助将油基塑料转化为可生物降解物质的生物。

Similar experiments have been carried out in the past.

过去也进行过类似的实验。

In 2011, Yale University students discovered a fungus that could feed on polyurethane plastic even in a place without air, like at the bottom of a landfill.

2011年,耶鲁大学的学生发现了一种真菌,即使在垃圾填埋地的底部等没有空气的地方,它也能以聚氨酯塑料为食。

Since then, scientists around the world have identified other kinds of fungi that can break down polyurethane. In 2017, a team of scientists identified a fungus that can feed on plastic by breaking down the main chemicals holding it together.

从那时起,世界各地的科学家就发现了其它能分解聚氨酯的真菌种类。2017年,一组科学家发现了一种能通过分解塑料中的主要化学物质并以之为食的真菌。

The German study noted that plastic-eating bacteria could be easily controlled and produced for industrial use. The researchers said the next step is to identify more information about the bacterial enzymes that can break down polyurethane.

德国的研究指出,这种以塑料为食的细菌可以很容易地被控制和培植来用于工业用途。研究人员说,下一步就是要找出能分解聚氨酯的细菌酶的更多信息。

Some scientists advise against introducing man-made enzymes or microorganisms into the environment that could be harmful.

一些科学家建议不要在环境中引入可能有害的人造酶或微生物。

Scientist Douglas Rader wrote about the issue in a 2018 article for the Environmental Defense Fund. He said much more study should be carried out to learn about “the complex relationships between plastics and marine ecosystems.” Such research is needed “before we can take drastic action such as” putting plastic-eating bacteria into the ocean, Rader wrote.

科学家道格拉斯·雷德在2018年为美国环保基金撰写的一篇文章中谈到了这个问题。他说应该进行更多研究来了解“塑料和海洋生态系统之间的关系复杂”。雷德写道,在我们采取诸如“将以塑料为食的细菌放入海洋”这样的极端行动之前,这样的研究是必要的。

The group Plastic Oceans International reports that scientists estimate more than 8 million tons of plastic are thrown into the world’s oceans every year.

国际塑料海洋组织报告称,科学家估计每年有超过800万吨的塑料被扔进世界各地的海洋中。

An estimated 300 million tons of plastic is produced yearly worldwide. Plastic Oceans International says about half of that amount is created for one use only.

据估计,全世界每年生产3亿吨塑料。国际塑料海洋组织称其中大约一半是仅一次性使用。

I’m Bryan Lynn.

布莱恩·林恩为您播报。

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