环境的救星-能吃塑料的神奇蛾子

  • Scientists Found a Caterpillar 科学家们找到了一种肉虫,That Eats Plastic 他们能吃塑料. Could It Help Solve our Plastic Crisis? 这种虫子有没有可能解决我们的塑料危机?
  • There are now 现在(世界上)有 more than 超过 50 known species 五十种已知的 of ‘plastivores 塑料虫,’ or plastic-eating 或者说吃塑料的 organisms 有机体, mostly 大多数是 bacteria 细菌 and fungi 和菌类, that can turn plastics 它们都能将塑料变 into energy 成能量.
  • One of these 其中一种, the greater wax moth 是大蜡蛾, is offering scientists hope 给科学家带来了希望 in the fight against plastic pollution 在与塑料污染的战斗中.
  • The researchers 研究者们 were particularly interested 特别有兴趣 in how this caterpillar 对这种肉虫, together with 以及 the microorganisms in its gut 它肠道里的微生物 — its microbiome 叫做微生物群落 — could break down 能够化解 and metabolize plastic 并且代谢塑料.
  • That work 那项研究工作 included 包括 separating out the bacteria 分离细菌 from the waxworms’ gut 从蜡蛾的肠道中 and growing it 并且培育它 on its own 单独 in the lab 在实验室. They found 他们发现 that one particular species of bacteria 有一种细菌 could indeed 的确能够 survive 存活 on nothing but plastic 只吃塑料没别的 for a year. 整整一年
  • Both 这两种生物都 can consume plastic 消化塑料 on their own 单独. However 但是, when the two 当这二者work together合作时, it rapidly 它能够迅速 accelerates 加速 the plastic biodegradation 塑料的生物化解. What’s more 还有, the researchers found 研究者们还发现 that caterpillars 肉虫 that ate plastic 吃塑料的 actually 实际上 had dramatically higher amounts 有多得多的 of gut microbes 肠道微生物.
  • These caterpillars 这些肉虫 aren’t some mutant 不是一些变种 evolved for the modern world 从现代世界进化而来的, either 也(不是). These so-called waxworms 这些叫做蜡虫的 are actually bee pests 实际上是蜂巢里的害虫 that invade beehives 它们会入侵蜂群 and live off the honeycomb 吃掉里面的蜂巢.
  • How much plastic 多少塑料 can a group of very hungry caterpillars eat 一群很饥饿的肉虫吃掉? According to the scientists 根据科学家的说法, about 60 waxworms 大约六十只蜡虫 chewed through 能吃掉 a matchbook-sized square of plastic bag 一个火柴盒大小的塑料袋 in under a week 在一周时间内. Clearly 很明显, the world would need 这个世界将需要 a lot of caterpillars 很多很多肉虫 to solve its plastic problems 来解决它的塑料问题. 
  • But 但是 LeMoine (叫做LeMoine的相关项目负责人)says that’s not really the point 说这并不是重点. “Waxworms are not 蜡虫不是 an immediate solution 直接解决方案 to plastic pollution 针对塑料污染的,” he says. 他说
  • However 然而, if scientists can 如果科学家能够 unravel 解开 what makes 是什么使得 these caterpillars 这些肉虫 and their gut bacteria 它们肠道里的细菌 flourish 生机勃勃, they might be able to 他们也许能够design tools 设计出一些工具 to wipe out plastic 来解决掉所有的塑料. “A better understanding 更好的理解 of how this synergy works 这种协同工作是如何发挥作用的 may guide 也许能够指导 future efforts 未来的努力 to design the ‘perfect’ 去设计一个完美的 plastic 塑料 biodegradation 生物降解 system 系统,” he says 他说. 
  • That goal 那个目标 is still far 仍然很遥远 from complete 距离实现.

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