The science behind the suds

seaweed
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The novel phosphodiesterase enzyme, discovered by a team from Newcastle University, UK, is used by bacteria to unstick themselves from seaweed. The bacteria release an enzyme which breaks down the sticky molecules, naturally present on the seaweed surface. This enzyme is a powerful, new type of natural cleaner, which researchers have found can be used to help cleaning in other places.


Isolating the enzyme and testing it under a variety of conditions in the lab, the Newcastle team led by Professor Grant Burgess in collaboration with Dr. Michael Hall, found it was not only extremely heat stable—but it also worked at its optimum at low temperatures, as it would in the sea.

The university team worked with leading cleaning products manufacturer Procter & Gamble (P&G) to harness this power of nature and to demonstrate that it could be used to develop more sustainable laundry detergents that

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