ASEF Young Minds
Online Events

Pia Marija Oblak: Will Microbes Clean the Planet?

December 21, 2020 | 7:00 pm | Online

ASEF, in cooperation with the Upper Savinja Students’ Club, is organizing an online popular science lecture, which will be conducted by Pia Marija Oblak, ASEF Fellow 2019, and a master’s student of microbiology. She will talk about the possibility of decomposing plastic with the help of microorganisms. The lecture held in Slovene will take place online on Monday, December 21, 2020, at 7 PM CET.

To view the lecture, you must register by December 21, 2020, at the latest by 6 PM CET. The Zoom link for access and the code for asking questions will be sent to all registered users by e-mail on the day of the event.

Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine life without plastic, as it is present at every step. Despite its exceptional usability, it, unfortunately, has several negative consequences for our environment. One of the major problems is the pollution of the planet with plastic polymers. Plastic in marine and terrestrial ecosystems is very stable and difficult to degrade. However, the solution to such a big problem may be hidden in very small organisms. Bacteria and fungi have great potential for degrading plastics, as they have some enzymes present that could also degrade complex synthetic polymers. Of particular interest is the study of the capacity of extremotolerant fungi to degrade plastic polymers. These fungi are found in the most unexpected parts of the planet and are adapted to grow in the presence of various types of stress (e.g. low temperatures, high salt concentration…). In the lecture, we will learn about the possibility of decomposing plastic with the help of microorganisms.

Pia Marija Oblak is a graduate microbiologist who is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in microbiology at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana. In 2019, with the help of the ASEF scholarship, she visited the University of California, Riverside, USA, where she joined a research group led by prof. Jernej Murn and thus also ventured into more biochemical waters. As part of the master’s thesis, which she is currently writing, she will focus on finding fungal enzymes that could break down plastics.