At the end of April 2017, there was a message about a new discovery made by Spanish scientists, it was about the ability of a larva moth called Galleria mellonella to eat polyethylene. The discovery is promising: the land and the sea are littered with such colorful and crisp plastic bags. The discovery was published in the journal Current biology.
With the word “mole”, positive associations are rarely associated. Mole is the insect larva. In the case of Galleria mellonella, it is the larva of the caterpillar, which is taken into the bee hives and lays eggs in the honeycomb. Hatching larvae feed on honey and beeswax. According to the press, the professional scientist Federica Bertocini made the discovery accidentally, she was engaged in beekeeping as an amateur. Periodically she had to clear the hives from the gluttonous larvae. Once she collected these larvae in a plastic bag. After an hour, the larvae were no longer in the package, they gnawed large holes in the polyethylene bag, using it as food. Her discovery was supported by a directional experiment: within 12 hours, 100 larvae (they can reach 1 cm or more) ate 92 milligrams of polyethylene.
Any promising discovery generates a series of studies of scientists working in this field (a kind of chain reaction). There was a report on the ability of other species of larvae to feed on polyethylene. There have been reports of the ability of some species of bacteria to eat pieces of plastic, the ability of some types of molds to “devour” polyethylene and the like. This flow of publications can continue for a long time, and can suddenly disappear. In the scientific world, there is always an invisible process of a kind of “natural selection” of the best achievements of science. It remains the most “viable” in physics, chemistry, biology or aesthetic surgery.
More recently, such general patterns of the process of “obtaining” knowledge (this science is also engaged in) still interested the public, today this interest is gone. Gradually the interest in the scientific discoveries decreases.
Note: “eating” polyethylene larva is a chemical process, the essence of which is the destruction of the structure of polyethylene chemical released by their salivary glands. The destructive enzyme has not yet been identified, its detection can be an important discovery for getting rid of the polyethylene waste accumulated in landfills and in the ocean.
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