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Lab Research

Our time in the Carter Lab has been incredibly informative for our project. Dr. Carter allowed us to test the plastic degradation of fungi generously donated to us by Dr. Cubeta of NCSU in her lab. Below is a summary of our experimental procedure.

We tested two kinds of fungi:

  • Pleurotus ostreatus

  • Ganoderma lucidum

On two different substrates:

  • Potato-Dextrose Agar (High nutrient)

  • Water Agar (Low nutrient)

With either:

  • UV pre-treated PE plastic

  • PE plastic with no pre-treatment

This brought us to a total of 42 petri dishes, including controls, with fungi, plastic, and substrate in each. We measured their collective weight over the course of 8 weeks, and completed further testing at the end of the experiment. Some of our graphs and data are to the right →

View a video of our adventures in research here.

Microscopic Results


On the last day of testing, we removed plastic pieces from the petri dishes and mounted them on a microscope slides. Dr. Carter helped us stain the fungus blue. What we found was really exciting! Hover over the image above to view. Microscopic holes in the plastic lined up directly with where P. Ostreatus grew. [Keyence BZ-X810 Fluorescence Microscope with a 20X objective lens]

UV vs. Non-UV Results

Non-UV Exposed Plastic Results.png
UV Exposed Results.png

This graph shows the decrease in weight across all our UV and non UV exposed samples. You can see the yellow control line at the bottom, that did not change weight at all. 

PDA vs. Water Agar Results

Water Agar Substrate Results.png
Potato Dextrose Agar Results.png

The PDA and WA samples started at very different weights, but both decreased fairly steadily. We were expecting one to decrease more dramatically than the other, but it looks like they're about the same. We'll be using a nutrient-dense medium like PDA in our prototype.

P. Ostreatus vs. G. Lucidum Results

Ganoderma Lucidum Results.png
Pleurotus Ostreatus Results.png

The samples inoculated with P. Ostreatus had a slightly sharper decrease in weight than those with G. Lucidum, although all samples with fungi decreased over time. Our control samples with no fungi stayed at a constant weight over the whole 8 week period.

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