Microbiology at work
The authors said:
Two Pestalotiopsis microspora isolates were uniquely able to grow on PUR [polyurethane] as the sole carbon source under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
Molecular characterization of this activity suggests that a serine hydrolase is responsible for degradation of PUR.
The broad distribution of activity observed and the unprecedented case of anaerobic growth using PUR as the sole carbon source suggest that endophytes are a promising source of biodiversity from which to screen for metabolic properties useful for bioremediation.
© 2011 Jonathan R. Russell, Jeffrey Huang, Pria Anand, Kaury Kucera, Amanda G. Sandoval, Kathleen W. Dantzler, DaShawn Hickman, Justin Jee, Farrah M. Kimovec, David Koppstein, Daniel H. Marks, Paul A. Mittermiller, Salvador Joel Núñez, Marina Santiago, Maria A. Townes, Michael Vishnevetsky, Neely E. Williams, Mario Percy Núñez Vargas, Lori-Ann Boulanger, Carol Bascom-Slack, and Scott A. Strobel, Biodegradation of Polyester Polyurethane by Endophytic Fungi, Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77(17): 6076-6084 (September 2011) (paragraph split)
The surprise is
This fungus operates aerobically and anaerobically.
Hypothetically, one can imagine a pile of plastic waste that is aerobic at the top, but increasingly anaerobic the deeper one goes. Having a single bioremediation agent that works effectively in both contexts (and in-between) would be useful.
Caveat — safety
Whether one could safely let Pestalotiopsis microspora loose in landfills (the most obviously beneficial use for it) is unknown.
And I’m not convinced that one could find out in a meaningfully thorough way. I suspect that investigation would have to start by examining its role (and environmental constraints) in the Ecuadoran jungle where it was discovered.