Nanoplastic and Fungi (Aspergillus & Neurospora)
Julie Peller and Michael Watters
Arts and Sciences
Synthetic plastics have been around for over 110 years. Since then variations of plastic have risen including, but not limited to, polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP), for many different uses. Invention of polyethylene terephthalate has only been around since 1973, which is used for things such as food storage. Our main focus was single use water bottles. Research has shown that plastics are mostly not biodegradable, but very commonly fragment and erode into smaller pieces, creating microplastics and nanoplastics. This study will test whether fungi, Aspergillus and Neurospora, have the ability to completely decompose water bottle PETE by using it as a carbon food source. Water bottle plastic, PETE, was transformed into a nanoplastic aqueous suspension using a solubilizer, according to the work done in Dr. Peller’s lab. The fungi were then allowed to grow in normal conditions with a dextrose kickstart. After a few days of growth, the nanoplastic suspension was then added to force the fungi to use it for food. After two weeks or so, the Neurospora was healthy suggesting that the organism may be using PETE nanoplastic as a carbon source. Future plans for this experiment include quantifying results to definitively determine the fungi’s plastic uptake.
Powell, Maranda and Huyser, Kaylee, "Nanoplastic and Fungi (Aspergillus & Neurospora)" (2023). Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium. 133.