Bit by bit, evolution favors organisms that can work with what’s available. For microbes that can eat plastic or other waste streams produced by humanity, it’s been good century. C&EN reader Yuan Li is on the hunt for those bugs. Li’s research focuses on wastewater bioremediation using naturally occurring bacteria. Most wastewater treatment already uses one or more fermentation steps, but searching in that soup for the secretive superstars sucking up more insidious substances could lead to targeted treatment cultures and even new recycling routes. This picture shows the moment just after Li added bacteria to three test solutions, causing them to form wispy swirls. “These indigenous microbes are so powerful that they make the wastewater look like a fairyland,” Li says.
Submitted by Yuan Li
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