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An international cohort of marine scientists discovered an ocean-borne fungus chomping through plastic trash suspended in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as detailed in a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Dubbed Parengyodontium album, the fungus was discovered among the thin layers of other microbes that live in and around the floating plastic pile in the North Pacific.

According to the study, it's the fourth known marine fungus capable of consuming and breaking down plastic waste. Researchers found that P. album was specifically able to break down UV-exposed carbon-based polyethylene, which is the type of plastic most commonly used to make consumer products, like water bottles and grocery bags — and the most pervasive form of plastic waste that pollutes Earth's oceans.

In the fight to find a way to reduce ocean plastic, finding a new fungus capable of speeding up the plastic degradation process is an exciting new turn (but it's not a cure-all).

Source: Futurism