STANFORD, Oct 1, 2015:

An international team of researchers found that the Darkling Beetle larvae, the mealworm, can subsist on a diet of Styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene. The research could have staggering implications for plastic waste pollution, reported Russian news portal RT.

In an ongoing worm study, Stanford engineers collaborated with researchers at the University of China and found that microorganisms in the guts of the common mealworm biodegrade Styrofoam. The process produces carbon dioxide and a usable waste that appears to be safe for crop use.

In the lab, 100 mealworms ate between 34 and 39mg — the weight of small pill — of Styrofoam per day, reported RT. The worms converted the plastic into carbon dioxide, and within 24 hours excreted the rest as biodegradable fragments that look like rabbit droppings. Styrofoam has long been considered non-biodegradable, and the new results have been described as shocking.

“Our findings have opened a new door to solve the global plastic pollution problem,” Wei-Min Wu, co-author of the two companion studies on the subject and a senior research engineer at Stanford University, said in a statement.

Wu said the mealworms, despite being fed a steady diet of plastic, were as healthy as those on a normal diet and that their waste appeared to be safe to use as soil for crops.

The latest findings build on earlier research with waxworms, the larvae of Indian mealmoths, whose own internal microorganisms can biodegrade polyethylene, a plastic used in filmy trash bags.

Read full story at:http://www.rt.com/usa/317147-plastic-eating-worm-waste-crisis/

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