Fungi can be used to break down waste plastic and create sustainable building materials, according to scientists from Kew Gardens in London.
The State of the World’s Fungi 2018 report – the first of its kind – highlights the aspergillus tubingensis fungus, found in a Pakistani rubbish tip and first documented in 2017. It claims this substance can break down plastic in weeks rather than years.
Researchers say it could be used to deal with the global plastic-waste crisis, which has caused concern in the design industry and beyond.
Aspergillus tubingensis can grow on the surface of plastics, where it secretes enzymes that break the chemical bonds between plastic molecules.
“This ability thus has potential to be developed into one of the tools desperately needed to address the growing environmental problem of plastic waste,” reads the report.
Report explores “huge potential for fungi”
The report was compiled by a team of researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, which is one of the leading institutions for fungal research internationally.
It provides an overview of current knowledge about mushrooms and other fungi, and charts their usefulness to both the natural and industrial worlds.