Have you ever asked can PETase help save the planet? Humans around the world dispose of plastic trash every year, polluting the environment on land and in seas and rivers. And according to The Guardian, people buy a million plastic bottles every minute. Environmental activist groups, such as Ban the Bottle, estimate that Americans use approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles a year. Some positive news is a new enzyme called PETase could help eliminate millions of tons of plastic bottles polluting our planet. Scientists came upon it while studying a 3D module of a newly found enzyme that eats plastic. They accidentally engineered a super enzyme that degrades polyethylene terephthalate plastic better than a natural enzyme from a bacterium unearthed in Japan last year. PET has only been around in large quantities for about 50 years. It belongs to a group of plastics called polyesters that occur in nature. They protect plant leaves and have been evolving for millions of years. Here are more details about how PETase evolved and an answer for can PETase help save the planet?
* Scientists created a high definition 3D model of the enzyme using a powerful X-ray beamline at Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire, England.
* The team noted they could improve PETase performance by adjusting a few residues on its surface.
* Scientists also tested on polyethylene furanoate plastic, a prospective plant-based alternative to PET that is slow to degrade in nature too.
The researchers were shocked when they saw the experiment results because it actually works better on PEF than PET. If they can adopt these technologies they actually have a potential solution to the plastic pollution problem.