Cambridge, Massachusetts -- A fungal mushroom that grows in the Amazon is capable of eating and digesting polyurethanes, according to scientists at Yale University.
A team of scientists were examining microorganisms found on plants collected from the Ecuador region of the tropical rainforest. The fungus Pestalotiopsis microspore is an endophytic microorganism, which means it lives on or inside the tissues of host plants without causing them harm.
According to the scientists, the plastic munching properties of the fungus are unusual because polyurethane is such a tough material traditionally seen as non-biodegradable.
Researchers found that Pestalotiopsis microspore can survive on a diet consisting solely of polyurethane. They claim the discovery could be of great use for breaking down PU waste. The fungus appears capable of biodegrading polyurethane in aerobic and anaerobic conditions such as found at the bottom of landfills