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New Strain of Plastic-Eating Bacteria Found

German Scientists Identify New Strain of Plastic-eating Bacteria

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Plastic and other garbage floats in a collector of a new device that uses a curtain of tiny air bubbles to catch plastic floating in the capital's canals is seen in Amsterdam, Netherlands. VOA

By Zlatica Hoke

German scientists say they have identified a strain of bacteria that is feeding on polyurethanes, a plastic resistant to biodegradation. This is an environment news.

A team of researchers at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, has found that a strain of soil bacterium, identified as Pseudomonas putida, can produce enzymes to digest polyurethanes thus making it biodegradable.

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The German team says the bacterium found in the soil surrounding a heap of polyurethane waste was feeding on polyurethane diol, which is used in plastic as a component that protects products from corrosion.

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A worker sorts through recycling bins at a centre that offers residents money in exchange of their recyclable garbage in an attempt to keep the streets clean in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

Hermann Heipieper, one of the researchers and author of the study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, said “this finding represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle (polyurethane) products.”

The study offers hope of ridding the planet of the growing quantities of discarded plastics’ products that threaten human and animal life. But some scientists are skeptical.

In earlier experiments, biodegradation of some plastics components was achieved with fungi. Yale University students in 2011 discovered a fungus that can digest and break down polyurethane plastic even in a place without air – like the bottom of a landfill. Since then scientists around the world have identified other fungal species that can breakdown polyurethane. In 2017, a team of scientists identified another fungus that can feed on plastic by breaking down chemicals that hold it together.

These studies also raised concerns about the ability of micro-organisms to invade and corrupt a dead and therefore sterile substance like plastic. Research on coral reefs has shown that floating plastics carry disease-causing microbes that infect the coral.

The Leipzig study says bacteria are much easier to control and produce for industrial use. Its authors say the next step is to identify the gene code of the enzymes produced by the bacteria to digest polyurethane.

Some scientists are arguing against introducing man-made enzymes or potentially dangerous micro-organisms into the natural environment.

Two years ago, scientist Douglas Rader wrote in an op-ed for the Environmental Defense Fund that “There is so much more we need to understand about the complex relationships between plastics and marine ecosystems before we can take drastic action such as spraying the ocean with so-called plastic-eating bacteria.”

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Workers load collected plastic bottles on to a truck at a junk shop in Manila. VOA

Despite new findings, science is nowhere near solving the growing plastics pollution problem. Humankind has manufactured and discarded so much plastics over the years that the world is getting short of places to dump the enormous quantities accumulated every day. Refusal by many developing countries to accept plastic waste from rich nations has exacerbated the problem.

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Some countries are cutting down on the use of plastics bags, drinking straws, bottles and utensils. Scientists keep coming up with new biodegradable products to replace plastic, such as wrapping materials made from algae, straws made of paper and disposable utensils made of bamboo, but the movement could be described as “too little too late.” Recycling the plastics to make building materials, fabrics, and other new plastic products cannot even make a dent in the growing amounts of plastics waste.

Also Read- India’s Lockdown Disrupts Functioning of Amazon and Flipkart

Plastic remains the most practical packaging material and is indispensable in medical, pharmaceutical, sanitary and many other industries. Some new biodegradable, but equally useful material, has yet to be developed.

Meanwhile scientists estimate that about 8 million pieces of plastics enter the oceans every day. For some of them it will take hundreds of years to properly degrade if they are not first swallowed by fish and other marine creatures that will die from it. (VOA)

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Safely Disinfect Your Prized Designer Shoes

Here are some simple tips to disinfect your designer shoes.

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In thse times of COVID its imperative to disinfect your cherised designer shoes. Pixabay

BY N. LOTHUNGBENI HUMTSOE

We know COVID-19 is transmitted via direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. But we also know that viruses and bacteria can attach to shoes and remain infectious there for several hours or days too.

As one can run the risk of bringing the virus home through footwear as well, its recommended to leave your shoes out of the home. But how can we disinfect our favorite pair of shoes? IANSlife spoke to Mr Ambud Sharma, Founder and CEO, Escaro Royale to get his tips and directions :

Cleanliness is a vital factor when it comes to combating the spread of the virus. Therefore, it’s important to keep your luxury shoes disinfected as it costs a fortune.

Most of the times, we all are used to spraying a quick spatter cleansers on a pair of trainers or sneakers, but this simply isn’t an option when attempting to sanitize your pure leather shoes and luxury footwear. This needs to be held delicately and therefore it’s not simply only about sanitizing the shoes. Disinfecting kills germs and bacteria with the help of a suitable chemical or cleaner.

Do a thorough Cleaning

Always remember to clean your shoes before disinfecting them. Get rid of the dirt and grime out of the soles and side of a shoe using disposable wipes. You just need to pull one from the pack and use it to remove dust and dirt, while de-odourizing your footwear. The wipes are also great for shining shoes and removing scuff marks too.

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Shoes can be disinfected with these simple tips. Pixabay

Aerosol disinfectant- a savior

Use an aerosol disinfectant meant for fabrics. It has a lower content of disinfectant chemicals such as acetone and bleach, which is likely to stain some fabrics. Ensuring that you’re using an aerosol and not a manual pump spray is also essential, as the application won’t be uniform.

Allow them to dry

After applying the disinfectant, let the shoes dry at room temperature in a clean environment with no sunlight. Let those designer shoes breathe in a new life!

Take proper care of leather and suede too

If you have leather and suede shoes, then you can clean it using a suede eraser. It can be used in removing any kind of dust, dirt or dry stains on suedes and are designed especially for this particular type of leather. You can also use leather cleaners for the same.

Don’t leave shoes wet

Wet shoes are more prone to bacteria. So, if your shoes get wet, it’s important to dry your shoes properly to make sure you don’t cause any damage or let those germs penetrate. The best option here is to let your shoes dry naturally, but if you want to catalyze the process, stuff them with tissue or newspaper to grasp the moisture. If you’re using newspaper, try to avoid sheets with lots of dark ink or pictures, this will help avoid the ink bleeding on to your shoes.

Always Remember!

At last, do not forget to wear gloves when handling potentially contaminated objects, including when disinfecting shoes. After disinfecting your footwear, immediately throw disposable gloves away. The reusable gloves can be stored in a separate laundry basket.

Also Read: Indians Are Spending A Lot More Time E-learning: Survey

Remember to avoid using your luxury shoes to a place which you think can be contaminated until you can have it professionally cleaned and disinfected. (IANS)

 

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German Researchers Identify Potential Cell Targets for COVID-19 Treatment

German researchers discovered the potential cell targets for treating SARS-CoV-2

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A team of German researchers identified potential cellular targets for treating COVID-19. Pixabay

A team of German researchers has identified potential cellular targets for treating SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

A team of biochemists and virologists at Goethe University and the Frankfurt University Hospital in Germany tested a series of compounds in laboratory models and found some which slowed down or stopped virus reproduction.

According to the researchers, these results now enable the search for an active substance to be narrowed down to a small number of already approved drugs.

Based on the current findings, published in the journal Nature, a US company said that it is preparing clinical trials. A Canadian company is also starting a clinical study with a different substance.

Using a technique developed at the Institute for Biochemistry II at Goethe University, researchers from both institutions were together able to show how a SARS-CoV-2 infection changes the human host cells.

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The campus of Goethe University in Germany. Wikimedia Commons

They used a particular form of mass spectrometry called the mePROD method, which they had developed only a few months previously. This method makes it possible to determine the amount and synthesis rate of thousands of proteins within a cell.

“Thanks to the mePROD-technology we developed, we were for the first time able to trace the cellular changes upon infection over time and with high detail in our laboratory. We were obviously aware of the potential scope of our findings,” said study lead author Christian Munch from Goethe University.

“However, they are based on a cell culture system and require further testing,” Munch added.

The findings paint a picture of the progression of a SARS-CoV-2 infection: whilst many viruses shut down the host’s protein production to the benefit of viral proteins, SARS-CoV-2 only slightly influences the protein production of the host cell, with the viral proteins appearing to be produced in competition to host cell proteins.

Instead, a SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to an increased protein synthesis machinery in the cell.

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The researchers were able to reduce virus reproduction using translation inhibitors. Pixabay

The researchers suspected this was a weak spot of the virus and were indeed able to significantly reduce virus reproduction using something known as translation inhibitors, which shut down protein production.

Twenty-four hours after infection, the virus causes distinct changes to the composition of the host proteome: while cholesterol metabolism is reduced, activities in carbohydrate metabolism and in the modification of RNA as protein precursors increase.

In line with this, the scientists were successful in stopping virus reproduction in cultivated cells by applying inhibitors of these processes.

Similar success was achieved by using a substance that inhibits the production of building blocks for the viral genome.

Read More: “Where is The National Exit Plan?”, Congress Questions Government Over Lockdown

According to the study, among the substances that stopped viral reproduction in the cell culture system was 2-Deoxy-D-Glucose (2-DG), which interferes directly with the carbohydrate metabolism necessary for viral reproduction.

The US company Moleculin Biotech possesses a substance called WP1122, a prodrug similar to 2-DG.

“The successful use of substances that are components of already approved drugs to combat SARS-CoV-2 is a great opportunity in the fight against the virus,” said study researcher Jindrich Cinatl. (IANS)

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Here’s How You Can Practice a Sustainable Lifestyle

A sustainable way of living

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Sustainable living is a must nowadays. Pixabay

In todays time, a sustainable way of living is the key to our existence.

But what is sustainable living? Sustainability means to live in a synchronized manner without disrupting the course of Earth. It attempts to reduce the consumption and stress of Earth’s natural resources and one’s personal resources. Development in the present without harnessing future assets or without basically harming our future is high priority.

But the best way to practice a sustainable lifestyle is by planning our homes.

Sustainable living is essentially guided by four principles – minimizing waste, limiting the use of Earth’s natural resources, wise use of the environment, and ensuring quality working/living environments – which can be easily incorporated in housing plans and construction as well, says Sudeep Kolte, VP Sales & Marketing, Saint Gobain India Pvt Ltd – Gyproc Business.

Many interior designers and architects these days put emphasis on sustainability when building and designing spaces and encourage consumers to build eco-friendly surroundings.

Sustainable housing helps to not only to bring about a change in the way we live but also attain a better and healthy future.

Kolte tells us how can one make their house sustainable

Design for energy eco-efficiency

Energy conservation and a zero-waste lifestyle are key to sustainable housing. When designing a space try and incorporate elements that help reduce waste and consume only the necessary amounts of energy. Some examples of this are the use of energy saving LED lights, solar panels to generate power and electricity, organic paints that are made with natural raw materials and building materials like gypsum that are recyclable and have environment friendly properties.

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Try using elements that help reduce waste and consume only the necessary amounts of energy for example solar panels. Pixabay

Design for low environmental impact

The millennial generation wants affordable functional spaces that offer comfort without compromising on design or affecting the environment. One of the big trends catching on among designers is minimalism, which not only declutters a space but also helps to project a small space look bigger and spacious. Similarly, reduce, reuse and recycle and do-it-yourself (DIY) are other trends that have propagated among young homeowners. Use of multipurpose solutions like drywalls which help in partitioning a room into two, saves not only the cost but also the materials used to build another separate room. Drywalls are also flexible in nature, faster to construct and easier to build than brick or cement walls. .

Design for durability and flexibility

Investing in a home is typically a one-time investment as there is a lot of thinking that goes in while buying a house. The goal of designing for longevity is to create durable and timeless spaces and reduce the need to change the whole design every couple of years. The best way to achieve timelessness is to choose quality over quantity, and simplicity/functionality over embellishments. Technology and innovations have led to designs that can be modified to create bigger spaces. For example, adjustable and modular furniture like sofa cum beds and wall mounted tables or built in shelves or mounts for TVs on drywalls.

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The right kind of ventilation improves the air quality of a home. Pixabay

Read More: No Security Breach, Users’ Data is Safe; Claims Aarogya Setu App Team

Design for healthy environment

People spend most of their time indoors, be it schools, colleges, offices or homes. Consideration of the indoor health environment should be on the priority list for every designer and homeowner.. Use of materials which have low emission of VOC – volatile organic compounds and other air pollutants or materials like Gyproc that have moisture resistant qualities and can absorb harmful compounds help in creating a healthy living space. The right kind of ventilation also improves the air quality of a home. To increase connectivity with nature biophilic designs are the way to go, however more relevant for large spaces.

Industries like energy, automobile, IT and biopharmaceuticals have adopted the green concept. The construction and interiors industry too, is striding towards sustainability with ecological practices implemented while designing spaces. (IANS)