Could fungi be the key to winning the war on plastic?

Published: Sep. 13, 2018 at 3:23 PM EDT
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Scientists in the UK are focused on fungi and say it's a forgotten kingdom that is vital to life on earth.

"They're not as pretty as flowers. You don't have them growing beautifully in your garden, but actually, they really are critical for so many things," says Professor Kathy Willis, director of science at Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

A new report on the 'state of the world's fungi' claims the organisms could tackle our planets problem with plastic. Experts say if the natural properties of fungus can be harnessed and developed, plastic could be broken down naturally in weeks rather than years.

The renowned Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London has the world's biggest collection of dried fungi with more than a million specimens. Fungi have provided food and medicine for centuries, but researchers say the curious organisms hold more superpowers.

"...for cleaning up plastics, for cleaning up radioactive waste."

More than 100 researchers from 18 countries worked on the new report that warns climate change is threatening fungi habitat in some parts of the earth.

Experts admit fungi have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde profile--helping 90% of the world's plants get nutrients, while at the same time doing irreversible damage to some ecosystems.