A type of bacteria that eats plastic in the ocean has been discovered. The question is, is this a good thing?
But whether the bug is green or mean remains to be seen, a scientist told CNN on Wednesday.
It has been proven that microbes can degrade plastic, said marine microbiologist Tracy Mincer of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. What’s significant is that the plastic is being degraded in a nutrient-poor area of the sea, an “ocean desert,” Mincer said.
The bacteria, found in a region of the North Atlantic Ocean called the Sargasso Sea, is clearly breaking down the plastic, but scientists don’t know if the byproduct is environment-friendly waste or a toxin. If the bacteria – or its waste – is consumed by larger organisms, the effects could be detrimental to aquatic life.