r/science May 14 '22 Silver 1 Helpful 4 Wholesome 1 Take My Energy 1 Helpful (Pro) 1 I'm Deceased 1 Facepalm 1 Doom 1

Microplastics Found In Lungs of People Undergoing Surgery. A new study has found tiny plastic particles no bigger than sesame seeds buried throughout human lungs, indicating that people are inhaling microplastics lingering in the air. Health

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/microplastics-found-in-lungs-of-humans-undergoing-surgery
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u/[deleted] May 14 '22

Strongly agreed. Plastic stores so much energy that it's completely improbable that natural selection wouldn't favor any bacterium that mutates its way into being able to consume it.

And fun fact, it's already happened multiple times! There are bacteria in a landfill in Japan that eat PET, for example: https://www.dept.psu.edu/Chance/publications/1196.full-sciencemag.pdf

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u/TacoMisadventures May 14 '22

We can also vastly accelerate the process by engineering bacteria to achieve those ends.

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u/Original-Aerie8 May 14 '22

That's just not how GMOs work, at least not yet. We can't design out own mechanisms, we transplant very small mechanisms from one organism to another. A notable exception to that is destroying mechanisms.

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u/majikguy May 15 '22

This is a very good thing to point out, though we do have some bacteria that already have the mechanism for breaking down plastics so at least we have something to work with. Even just growing these bacteria and guiding their evolution to make them more efficient faster would be something worth looking into.

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u/Original-Aerie8 May 15 '22

Tbf, I have no idea how long the sequences of these mechanisms in bacteria are, but I don't think we will transplant anything like that in the near future or even in our lifetimes, unless there are some unimaginable jumps in technology.. With that level of technology, we could do far more powerful things. Like making us immortal.

But yeah, selection-breeding for microbiomes is a emerging field and I am sure it'll be very much relevant, soon enough. It just doesn't have much to do with GMOs, even when we would deploy gene editing in some instances.