Building competent mealworms with the ability to disintegrate PET in addition to polystyrene

   We were interested in solving the problem of processing excess plastic waste, and while contemplating about ways to go about it in the most nature-friendly manner, we came across mealworms, which were found to have the ability to digest plastic. At first, our team wished to devise a mechanism that would fasten the process of plastic digestion, thus increasing efficiency of degradation. However, that would have required significant amount of time spent on just discovering the single enzyme responsible for degradation and additional time studying about enzyme transformation, which seemed too much of a challenge for the first-year bio-engineers we were. Then, after some more research into mealworms, we found out that mealworms do not degrade just ANY plastic. They would only digest polystyrene, more commonly known as styrofoam. So we thought, how about we give these mealworms the ability to degrade a more variety of plastic? If we could make this a reality that would mean the areas of mealworm application would be expanded and more diverse usage may be possible! So for our bio-machine, we decided to build a more competent mealworm that could also digest PET, another common plastic that troubles the globe.


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