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I am interested in weather PVC and PET eating bacteria can be found inside people's homes. The PET consuming ones were found in or near plastic waste dumps or in the ocean, but would they also have adequate conditions in people's domiciles or they require specific things like the plastic being constantly in contact with water or earth?

I am mainly interested in the probability/possibility of PET eating bacteria being found in domestic spaces.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, i was away for a while and didn't see it ^^: I am more interested in PVC, and yeah, i have plastics that are 15+ years old and don't have any visible holes or abrasions, i was a bit perplexed about weather a lifeform so proliferous (and with ample ''food'' available) would only be found in dirt/water, if that, and could consume PVC only while there. $\endgroup$ – John Adams Sep 15 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ Only thing i found that addressed the issue tangentially was a wikipedia article about a strain that eats PET and was found in Japan, and an article about PET degrading bacteria in cold seas, no mention of PVC or household conditions. I guess that i'd do best to find some microbiologist or bacteriologist and ask them directly, but chances of that are low. $\endgroup$ – John Adams Sep 15 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ I see (X-ray specs you get after a certain time here) that you tried to thank me in an answer (deleted) You haven't enough "reputation" (points) to comment yet, where this would normally go. You are welcome. Although I don't share your particular concerns, it was interesting to me from a biochemical point of view to read about the bacterial metabolism. $\endgroup$ – David Sep 17 at 10:15
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If you read the Wikipedia article carefully, and the recent article in PNAS on improving the enzymes responsible for TET degradation, it is evident that Ideonella sakaiensis is the only example so far known of a bacterium that can use PET as an energy source. As it is a Japanese marine bacterium it will not be found in “domestic spaces”.

The requirement for an aqueous environment is presumably related to the need for the enzymes the bacterium secretes to gain access to the plastic and the products of the digestion to be reabsorbed, and perhaps also for access to essential nitrogen, not present in the plastics. The rarity of bacteria that have evolved this facility presumably relates to the ‘difficulty’ of the chemistry — or its difference from that involved in degrading other carbon sources — although there is some similarity to cutinase, the enzyme in certain fungi that can digest the cuticle of plants.

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I also found something other of interest, apparently a certain Daniel Burd isolated some microorganisms from a landfill, full info here:

https://oxsci.org/2018/11/27/daniel-burd-17-year-old-eco-expert/

The organisms that he found degrading PET were genus Sphingomonas and Pseudomonas. I couldn't find weather they had PVC degrading capabilities though. As for these being found in ''domestic'' conditions, well, they were found in a landfill, so a level of moisture and soil contact seem to be of some necessity to them.

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