16 Jul 2022

Chris Rinke: polystyrene-eating worms could change recycling

From Saturday Morning, 10:35 am on 16 July 2022
Dr Chris Rinke from University of Queensland

Photo: Supplied

The beetle larvae known as Zophobas morio - more commonly called superworms - have been found to be able to survive on a diet of polystyrene, a discovery which could help change the recycling industry.

Dr Chris Rinke, who leads a team of scientists based at the University of Queensland, says enzymes in the superworm's gut have the ability to degrade the plastic, which is prevalent in takeaway containers and items such as car parts and insulation.

Originally hailing from Austria, Dr Rinke also has an interest in microbial dark matter — microbes that biologists struggle to culture in the lab.