PARENGYODONTIUM ALBUM (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     7th June 2024        

Context: Researchers recently found that a Parengyodontium album fungus living in the sea can break down the plastic polyethylene.

Parengyodontium Album

  • About: It is a marine fungus with the remarkable ability to degrade polyethylene (PE), the most prevalent type of plastic.
  • Discovered by: Marine microbiologists from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).
  • Dependency: Sunlight plays a crucial role in enabling the fungus to utilize PE as an energy source.
  • Bioremediation Process: Through bioremediation, the carbon from PE is transformed into fungal biomass known as album, serving as energy.
  • Importance: Initial photodegradation of PE by UV sunlight is essential, making the fungus effective in degrading oceanic plastic litter.
  • Magnitude of Plastic Pollution: With over 400 billion kilograms of plastic produced annually, much of it ends up polluting the ocean.
  • Fungal Digestive Enzymes: Recognizing fungi as potent degraders due to their array of digestive enzymes, researchers anticipate the existence of more plastic-degrading fungi in deeper oceanic regions.


    • About: Fungus is a diverse group of organisms belonging to the kingdom Fungi, encompassing yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds, and mushrooms.
    • Characteristics: Fungi are characterized by their eukaryotic nature, possessing cells with membrane-bound organelles and distinct nuclei.
    • Habitat: Soil or water, while others engage in parasitic or symbiotic relationships with plants or animals.
    • Decomposers: Fungi excel as decomposers, breaking down organic matter in their surroundings and utilizing it as a source of nutrition, thus earning them the title of decomposers.
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