UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Why can mealworms eat Styrofoam?
Question Date: 2016-02-06
Answer 1:

That's amazing. I didn't know mealworms could eat Styrofoam. I know there are microbes that can eat oil spills in the ocean, but at least the oil is a liquid. Thanks for letting me know about the mealworms.

Indeed, researchers at Beihang University in Beijing China and at Stanford University in California discovered this. Here's a news link about it:

digesting plastics

There are microbes in the mealworms' guts that digest the Styrofoam to produce Carbon Dioxide and a little bit of solid waste ['poop'].

The mealworms that ate Styrofoam grew as well as the mealworms that ate their normal diet, which was bran. Scientists used to think Styrofoam and polystyrene couldn't be biodegraded. This is an exciting discovery.



Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use