The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the research.
McGeehan and colleagues were examining the structure of the natural, PET-degrading enzyme when they found they could increase the degradation rate by manipulating the chemical structure of the enzyme.
Stefan Venter, UPIX Photography John McGeehan and colleagues inadvertently engineered an enzyme better at degrading plastic than the enzyme which evolved in nature.
In general, one doesn't want scientists in a lab to accidentally create mutant things with appetites.
Douglas Kell, a professor of bioanalytical science at Manchester University, said further rounds of work "should be expected to improve the enzyme yet further". "It means we won't need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment", McGeehan was quoted as saying.
United Kingdom wage growth lags inflation even as jobless rate hits new low
Employment, the proportion of all working age adults in work, rose to 75.4 per cent, the highest since records began in 1971. Dollar weakness after uncertainty about USA trade policy has also been a contributory factor, traders said.
With the new enzyme, however, the idea is it that it can be put to use to turn old plastic into new plastic. More than 8 million tons of plastic are tossed into the world's oceans every year, according to non-profit organization Plastic Oceans Foundation.
The enzyme now has the ability to break down the plastic in a matter of days, as opposed to the centuries it would take to naturally degrade in the ocean.
"What we've learned is that PETase is not yet fully optimized to degrade PET-and now that we've shown this, it's time to apply the tools of protein engineering and evolution to continue to improve it", study coauthor Gregg Beckham said in a press statement.
The microbe uses an enzyme called PETase to break down the plastic it consumes.
Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. The structure of PET is too crystalline to be easily broken down and while PET can be recycled, most of it is not.
Manchester City win the title: How pundits, managers, players reacted
Jay Rodriguez has scored three goals in his past four Premier League appearances - as many as he did in his previous 26 combined. But after Sunday's post-match tweet, United fans will be celebrating if and when the Baggies' relegation is confirmed.
NREL and the University of Portsmouth collaborated closely with a multidisciplinary research team at the Diamond Light Source in the United Kingdom, a large synchrotron that uses intense beams of X-rays 10 billion times brighter than the sun to act as a microscope powerful enough to see individual atoms.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. McGeehan says that's not the point.
A Japanese waste dump is an unlikely location for what may be a huge breakthrough in the plastics pollution crisis.
"It does only focus on one type of plastic".
"I think [the new research] is very exciting work, showing there is strong potential to use enzyme technology to help with society's growing waste problem", said Oliver Jones, a chemist at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and not part of the research team. "[But] this is certainly a step in a positive direction". PET has only been widely used since the 1970s, so the bacterium had evolved at breakneck speed to use the new food source. He said, "There is still a way to go before you could recycle large amounts of plastic with enzymes, and reducing the amount of plastic produced in the first place might, perhaps, be preferable".
Why Cynthia Nixon Wants To Be Governor
Those same members will vote again next month on formally nominating her for the party's line on the ballot. Cuomo's campaign announced that it would not seek the Working Families Party's endorsement this year.