Nature’s hidden talents
Hungry fungi eats plastic?!
Researchers in Sydney have discovered that two types of mould fungi usually found in plants and soil can be used with ultraviolet rays or heat to degrade (break down) small samples of polypropylene.
Polypropylene is plastic used to make things like bottle caps, ice-cream tubs and cling wrap. It accounts for about a third of the world’s plastic waste! The plastic is recyclable but about 13,500 tonnes of ends up in Australian landfill every year due to contamination. Engineers think that within five years this fungi technology could be used to process thousands of tonnes of plastic each year.
Meanwhile we need to reduce our use of plastic NOW!
The research was supervised by Australia’s first Chief Circular Engineer. So what is a circular economy? A circular economy is about design to eliminate waste and pollution by making sure most of the things we use are repurposed.
Some glowing millipedes found in the Illawarra region south of Sydney are likely the first-ever recorded bioluminescent Australian native millipedes! That’s right … these marvellous, many-legged animals emit their own light.
The name milliped comes from Latin (ancient Italian) meaning a thousand (mille) feet (pede). The name has long been considered misleading because until recently none of the 12,000+ species of millipedes around the world was known to have more than 750 legs. But in 2020 a millipede was found in Western Australia with 1306 legs! That’s a lot of legs packed into a body just 9.5cm long and 1mm across…
NSW’s south coast is also glowing from another bioluminescent source: mushrooms!
Autumn and winter is the time to spot glowing fungi such as ghost mushrooms in Bournda National Park.
While we know that a chemical reaction (similar to that in fireflies) causes the bioluminescence, scientists still don’t know its purpose.
Did you know …?
The largest burrowing marsupial in the world is the northern hairy-nosed wombat.
It used to be found in NSW, but is now critically endangered and only found in two wombat colonies in Queensland.