Scientists have found that wax worms (which are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths) have saliva with two enzymes that break down durable polyethylene—a widely produced plastic. The discovery was made when “one scientist, an amateur beekeeper, cleaned out an infested hive and found the larvae started eating holes in a plastic refuse bag.” As Dr Federica Bertocchini of the Biological Research Centre in Madrid says, “After a while, I noticed lots of holes and we found it wasn’t only chewing, it was [chemical breakdown].” The enzymes are so powerful that just an hour’s exposure is akin to years of natural wear. While there’s more research to be done, this humble worm could help revolutionize plastic recycling. Read more at The Guardian.
Image courtesy of CSIC Communications Department/PA