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iGEM 2021: Designing better enzymes to break down plastic


Polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, is a type of plastic that is widely used for packaging food and beverages, including soft drinks, juices, and water. Although PET is the most recycled plastic in the U.S., its current recycling rate is only 31%. This year’s UIUC iGEM team aims to improve that by tweaking PETase—a naturally-occurring enzyme found in Ideonella sakaiensis, a bacterium discovered in 2016 as the world’s first PET-eating bacterium.

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