SynthSys

Bacteria serves tasty solution to global plastic problem

Scientists have devised a novel way of tackling the mounting issue of plastic pollution… by using bacteria to transform plastic waste into vanilla flavouring.

Researchers have discovered that the common bacteria E. coli can be deployed as a sustainable way to convert post-consumer plastic into vanillin, a new study reveals.

Vanillin is the primary component of extracted vanilla beans and is responsible for the characteristic taste and smell of vanilla. 

The transformation could boost the circular economy, which aims to eliminate waste, keep products and materials in use and have positive impacts for synthetic biology, experts say.

 

This is the first example of using a biological system to upcycle plastic waste into a valuable industrial chemical and this has very exciting implications for the circular economy. The results from our research have major implications for the field of plastic sustainability and demonstrate the power of synthetic biology to address real-world challenges.

Joanna SadlerFirst author and BBSRC Discovery Fellow,  School of Biological Sciences

 

The study, published in Green Chemistry lays the foundation for further studies to maximize vanillin production towards industrially relevant levels.

The research was funded by a BBSRC Discovery Fellowship and a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.

Related Links

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Microbial synthesis of vanillin from waste poly(ethylene terephthalate), Green Chemistry

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