Plastic degrading Yeast

Plastic is a durable and inexpensive material. However, due to its chemical structure, it takes forever to degrade naturally. Most plastic products aren’t recycled properly either, for most are thrown in the wrong garbage bin, and some are covered in food that can’t be recycled. As a result, these leftover waste sit in massive landfills or dumped in the ocean at the rate of one garbage truck of plastic a minute according to the World Economic Forum (2016). The plastic serves no purpose and harms the environment, including the seafood that we eat. In 20 years or so, supermarkets won’t give us a plastic bag with our frozen fish because it’ll be in there already. As we try to make the planet we’re living on more sustainable, we must think of a better way to recycle plastic.

Greetings, my name is Thinh Vu and I’m a High School Junior. I’m trying to make brewing yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to produce PETase and MHETase which are enzymes that work together to break down PET plastic (this is the plastic that makes up your water and soda bottle as well as salad trays and peanut butter containers). I’ll be using the enzymes from Ideonella sakaiensis, a bacteria that was discovered at a Japanese bottle recycling facility. 


The bacteria use the enzymes to break down PETs as its sole carbon source. However, the bacteria is very finicky and hard to work with. Since Saccharomyces cerevisiae is well studied and easy to work with, it makes an ideal test subject. Not only that, but Yeast is also the chosen species to produce important enzymes and proteins (for pharmaceutical and medical purposes). Since Yeast is a Eukaryotic, it will produce more Protein then bacteria, making it the ultimate Plastic degrading organism. 

Your donation will go directly into:

Synthesizing the enzymes 

Custom vector onboarding

Purchasing the desired plasmid and antibiotics

With your help, we will be closer to living in a more sustainable planet. And maybe 20 years from now, your frozen fish wouldn’t come with an extra plastic bag inside of it


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Your donation matters


Thinh Vu 
O Fallon, MO
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