In Bolivia, in the largest continuous salt desert in the world, researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have found a bacterium that stores large amounts of PHB, a prized polymer. This biodegradable plastic is used by the food and pharmaceutical industries, for example to produce nanospheres to transport antibiotics.
In the quest for natural polymers to substitute for petroleum-based plastics, scientists have recently discovered that a microorganism in South America produces poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), a biodegradable compound of great utility for the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and packaging industries.
The bacterium in question is Bacillus megaterium Uyuni S29, a strain that produces the largest amount of polymer of the genus. It has been found in the water 'eyes' of the famous Salar de Uyuni or Uyuni salt flat, in Bolivia.
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