Bacteria and newsprintBMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6935.1046a (Published 16 April 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1046
- B Dixon
It's taken more than 40 years to get there, but I feel vindicated.
Tear off a one inch by one inch square of newspaper, the book said, and lay it on top of some damp soil in a plant pot. Place the pot in a warm place, keep it moist, and after a month or so the paper will have totally disappeared. Explanation: cellulolytic bacteria and fungi in the soil will have attacked the cellulose fibres of the newsprint, using it as an energy source.
I tried the experiment, not once but several times. Nothing happened. Even with different newspapers and soils the paper remained disappointingly resistant to biodegradation. So I consulted a teacher. It does not work with glossy paper, …