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Enzyme that digests the plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which provides a potential solution to plastic pollution.

Professor John McGeehan and Dr Gregg Beckham (University of Portsmouth) and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL discovered the crystal structure of PETase. PETase comes from Ideonella sakaiensis, a bacteria that was discovered outside of a bottle recycling factory. Scientists believe that with further investigation into how PETase degrades PET they will be able to engineer the enzyme to degrade PET more efficiently and design other enzymes that can also break down plastics.

The enzyme can also breakdown PEF (polyethylene furandicarboxylate), which is a bio-based substitute PET plastic.


Further Resources


A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate)

Shosuke Yoshida, Kazumi Hiraga, Toshihiko Takehana, Ikuo Taniguchi, Hironao Yamaji, Yasuhito Maeda, Kiyotsuna Toyohara, Kenji Miyamoto, Yoshiharu Kimura, Kohei Oda

Academic paper

Active Site Flexibility as a Hallmark for Efficient PET Degradation by I. sakaiensis PETase

Tobias Fecker, Pablo Galaz-Davison, Felipe Engelberger, YoshieNarui, Marcos Sotomayor, Lorto P.Parra, César A.Ramírez-Sarmiento

Academic paper

Characterization of Biodegradable Plastics

D. Raghavan

Academic paper

Engineering a plastic-eating enzyme

University of Portsmouth

Structural insight into the molecular mechanism of PET degradation

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)


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