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Outstanding Project in Nautical or Submarine Sciences

Can Tenebrio molitor's help us eat our problems away?

Sustainability and Renewable Energy
Alynna Durazo Joseph Romero

Jeremy Jonas

Environmental pollution is a major problem that plagues the planet today. In particular, plastics continue to pollute our oceans, rivers and terrestrial environments. Among the plastics polluting our planet, polystyrene our 'Styrofoam' poses significant problems of not breaking down and polluting environments for years to decades. Previous research has shown the ability of Tenebrio Molitor's to digest and breakdown polystyrene. We wanted to determine which Tenebrio Molitor species that are commonly sold at pet stores would show the best rate of polystyrene consumption. We evaluated two species of mealworms (Tenebrio Molitor's and Zophobas morio) to see which consumed polystyrene the fastest. By dissecting some mealworms and using Lb agar plates and broth, we further investigated whether particular gut bacteria might be responsible for the polystyrene digestion. Our results could provide low-cost and efficient methods for environmental remediation of polystyrene pollution. Stay tuned to see our results!

Project presentation

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Lab journal excerpts

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4 thoughts on “Can Tenebrio molitor’s help us eat our problems away?

  1. I like this project because it is unique. Nice job to come up with this project and the set up you created to arrive to you conclusion.
    I think this could become a reality in some form in the future and we continue to figure out what to do with the waste we create.

  2. This project was executed magnificently. The posing question, being such a problem the world faces, drew me in immediately. The data collected surprised me in the best way. Bravo!!!!!!

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