POLLUTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
A Filipino generates around 0.3 to 0.7 kilograms of garbage daily depending on income levels,
according to a study1 by the World Bank. Metro Manila produces about 8,000 tons of solid waste each
day and is expected to reach 13,300 tons in 2014 (Baroña, 2004). The National Capital Region produces
the highest amount of wastes, about 23% of the country’s waste generation (www.asria.org). According
to a discards survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace Southeast Asia in 2006,
synthetic plastics comprise the 76% of the floating trash in Manila Bay, out of which 51% are plastic
bags, 19% are sachets and junk food wrappers, 5% are styrofoams and 1% of hard plastics. The rest
were rubber 10% and biodegradable discards 13% (EcoWaste Coalition, 2008).
World Bank. The Philippines Environment Monitor 2001. (Pasig City: Philippines: World Bank, December
BIOREMEDIATION / BIODEGRADATION
Bioremediation is the process wherein biological systems such as plants,
microorganisms, and fungi are used to reduce pollution. They break down pollutants for their
growth and/or energy needs. In co-metabolism, some organisms use metabolic pathways for
their growth and energy supply while at the same time, breaking down pollutant molecules.
This concept is utilized by researchers for further bioremediation purposes. The products of a
complete biodegradation include carbon dioxide, water, and harmless inorganic salts.
Incomplete biodegradation, on the other hand, may produce breakdown substances which may
or may not be more toxic or harmful than the original pollutant.
In many cases, conditions are not favorable enough to promote spontaneous
biodegradation or natural attenuation. There is a further need to add nutrients or suitable
organisms for biodegradation to occur, due to their insufficient quantity. The future trend
would be to discern first the speed of unaided biodegradation, before adding any supplements,
and then act only if there is insufficient activity which is fast enough to remove the contaminant
before causing any expected risks.
The fungal isolate, which will be used in this study was discovered by Cuevas and
Manaligods (1997). They found it growing on a sando plastic bag buried in forest soil and litter
in the lowland secondary forest of Mt. Makiling, Laguna. The fungus comprised of sterile
melanin pigmented mycelia. Initially it was reported as ascomycete sterile dark mycelia (ASDM),
but further cultural studies have shown that it belongs to the Class Ascomycete, Order
Xylariales, under the genus Xylaria (unpublished data). This genus has the following
characteristics (Rogers et al., 2000) :
stromatal tissue quantity: distributed above, around, and beneath
stromatal layers: unipartite
stromatal surface level: erumpent or superficial
stromatal interior: essentially homogeneous
stromatal orange granules surrounding perithecia: absent
stromatal KOH pigments: absent
stromatal conidium-bearing discs: absent
stromatal bases: stipitate or, if sessile, conspicuously constricted
stromatal aggregation: not forming a crust
stromatal shapes: other than wiry
coremial pegs or remnants: absent
substrates: associated with dung or associated with insect nests or
associated with substrates other than dung or insect nests
ascomatal number per stroma: mostly multiperitheciate
ascomatal ostioles: present
ascomatal configurations: not valsoid
ascomatal orientation: mostly oriented horizontally
ascal apical rings: present
ascus height vs width: usually higher than wide
ascospore cell number: one-celled
ascospore shapes: other than cuboid
ascospore color: colored
ascospore ornamentation: smooth
ascospore germination site morphology: slit-like
perispore dehiscence: indehiscent
cultural gross morphology on oatmeal agar: not highly furrowed
places where teleomorph and anamorph are produced: on the
same stromata in most species
BENEFICIAL USES OF XYLARIA
Some Xylaria sp. species exist as endophytes, and have mutualistic associations with
plants. The fungus secrete toxins to protect the plant from herbivory from other insects or
animals, while the fungus in return feeds on the host’s tissues for nutrition, and its mycelia are
scattered through seed dispersal (Davis, et al., 2003). There is a hypothesis that Xylariaceae
endophytes are quiescent colonizers that will decompose lignin and cellulose later when the
plant dies (adapted from Petrini et al., 1995; Whalley, 1996 as cited by Davis, et al., 2003).
Nonetheless there are also some xylariaceous fungi that only exist as endophytes (adapted
from Rogers, 2000; J. D. Rogers, Washington State University, personal communication as cited
by Davis, et al., 2003). No obvious benefit to living host plants has been documented for
Xylariaceae (Davis, et al., 2003).
A review (Carroll, 1988 as cited by Davis, et al., 2003) of empirical studies on
antagonistic interactions between endophytes and grazers, insects and microbial pathogens
summarizes five general properties of endophyte mutualism: (1) the endophyte is ubiquitous in
a given host, geographically widespread, and causes minimal disease symptoms in the host
plant; (2) vertical transmission or efficient horizontal transmission of the fungus occurs; (3) the
fungus grows throughout host tissue, or, if confined to a particular organ, a high proportion of
such organs are infected; (4) the fungus produces secondary metabolites likely to be antibiotic
or toxic; and (5) the endophyte is taxonomically related to known herbivore or pathogen
A patented extract from Xylaria nigripes, the WulinshenPrime™ in SleepWell™ can
provide important nutrients usually at a low level, to the brain and thus help in its biochemical
processes to promote a more restful and deeper sleep to wake up fully revitalized. This extract
contains essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, glycoproteins, glutamic acid,
γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate decarboxylase. It is well established that glutamic
acid assists the uptake of GABA to specific brain cell receptors. GABA's main function is to
inhibit excitatory neuro-activities to exert a tranquilizing effect on the central nerve system.
Glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) is involved in the synthesis of GABA.
COLONIZATION OF PLASTIC BY XYLARIA SP.
A previous study by Clutario and Cuevas (2001) proved that Xylaria sp. can utilize
polyethylene plastic strips as an alternative carbon source, thereby degrading them into usable
forms for self-sustenance. Through the use of scanning electron microscopy, the proponents of
the said study observed visible damages of the surface structure of the plastic strips. There
were tearing and striations caused by active burrowing of Xylaria hyphae on the polyethylene
material. Plastic is an extremely versatile synthetic material made of high molecular weight,
semi-crystalline polymer prepared from ethylene through the cracking of crude oil, light
petroleum and natural gas (Knapczyk and Simon, 1992 as cited by Clutario and Cuevas, 2001).
For plastic bags alone, it is estimated that some 430,000
gallons of oil are needed to produce 100 million pieces of these omnipresent consumer items on the
planet (EcoWaste Coalition, 2008).
Baroña, M. L. J., 2004. Fungi: A solution to Manila's plastic woes. Department of Agriculture.
Bureau of Agricultural Research. Vol. 5 No. 8
Clutario, M. T. P. and Cuevas, V. C. 2001. Colonization of Plastic by Xylaria sp. Philippine Journal
of Science 130 (2): 89 – 95.
Davis, E. C., Franklin, J. B., Shaw, A. J. And Vilgalys, R. 2003. Endophytic Xylaria (Xylariaceae)
Among Liverworts And Angiosperms: Phylogenetics, Distribution, And Symbiosis.
American Journal of Botany 90(11): 1661–1667.
Environmental Issues In The Philippines. www.asria.org [retrieved 2008, June 13]
Efficacy & Safety Studies on SleepWell™.
Environmental Biotechnology: Bioremediation, Prevention, Detection and Monitoring, Genetic
Engineering. 1999. Briefing Paper 4. 2nd ed. EFB Task Group on Public Perceptions of
Biotechnology Environmental_biotechnology_English.pdf [retrieved 2008, June 4]
Rogers, J. D., Ju, Y. M., and Adams, M. J. 2002. The Genus Xylaria. (babalikan ko pa yung site
nakalimutan qng kopyahin)
Tavanlar, M. A. T. and Lat, E. C. 2008. Partial Characterization of Mutants from a Plastic-
degrading Black Fungus.
(Pano isight to, e di naman published sa journal)
Ja, wala lang to. Parang may conclusive parts tayong makukuha dito.
FEMS Microbiol Rev, 1992 Dec, 9(2-4), 311 - 6
Microbial degradation of natural and of new synthetic polymers; Schink B et
al.; In landfills, deposited waste material is usually faced with strictly anoxic
conditions . This means that the design of new biodegradable polymers must
take into consideration that degradation should be possible especially in
the absence of molecular oxygen . Poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate is depolymerized
by the anaerobic fermenting bacterium Ilyobacter delafieldii through an
extracellular hydrolase. Monomers are degraded inside the cells through classical
beta-oxidation . Polyalkanoates containing odd-numbered or branched-chain acid
monomers should he degraded in an analogous manner; in most cases the final
mineralization of these residues requires special pathways . A comparison of the
chemistry of natural polymer biodegradation leads to the conclusion that
synthetic biodegradable polymers should be designed in the future to
contain linkages which can be cleaved by extracellular hydrolytic enzymes
. Recent findings on aerobic and anaerobic bacterial degradation of synthetic
polyethers suggest that natural evolution of new depolymerizing enzymes, perhaps
from existing hydrolases, could be possible in a reasonable amount of time,
provided that the monomers are likely energy sources for a broad variety of
Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for April 2000
This month's fungus is Xylaria polymorpha, dead man's fingers.
The location of the fruiting bodies growing on wood leads one to believe this is a
wood decay fungus, which in fact it is. (sometimes you can follow your instincts...)
However, like most wood decay Ascomycota, it causes neither a brown rot nor a
white rot. See this page for a discussion of white and brown rots. Briefly recounted,
the main components of wood are cellulose and lignin, with some glucans and other
materials acting as glue. Brown rot fungi digest the cellulose and leave the brown
lignin behind; white rot fungi (in their simplest form) digest the lignin and leave the
white cellulose behind. Neither touches the glucans. The wood-decay Ascomycota
cause a soft-rot, digesting the glucan and other glues and leaving the cellulose and
lignin behind. Without the glue the structure of the wood collapses and leaves a
"soft" rot. The Ascomycota are thus less efficient at removing all the nutrients from
the wood. However, they still seem to be pretty successful and are very common in
Efficacy & Safety Studies on SleepWell™ © 2008 NuLiv Lifestyle.
The proprietary WulinshenPrime™ in SleepWell™ then provides the critical, necessary and
often depleted nutrients to the brain and assist in the biochemical process in the brain to promote
restful and deeper sleep so one will wake up fully refreshed and energized.
WulinshenPrime™ is a proprietary Xylaria Nigripes extract produced by a patented
fermentation technology available from NuLiv Science only. WulinshenPrime™ contains many
essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, glycoproteins, glutamic acid, γ-
aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate decarboxylase. It is well established that glutamic acid
assists the uptake of GABA to specific brain cell receptors. GABA's main function is to inhibit
excitatory neuro-activities to exert a tranquilizing effect on the central nerve system. Glutamate
decarboxylase (GAD) is involved in the synthesis of GABA.
Pharmacological studies (Ref. 1) indicate that the contents of glutamic acid (Glu), γ-
aminobutyric acid (GABA) and the binding affinity of GABA receptors in the brain were found
to be augmented in the subjects after the administration of WulinshenPrime™. Furthermore, the
activity of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) was also elevated. All these suggest that
WulinshenPrime™ possesses the ability to facilitate the entry of Glu and GABA into the brain to
activate the GABA receptors and thus exerts its sedative and sleep-promoting and mood-
Safety of SleepWell™
Xylaria Nigripes has been used safely for centuries in China. WulinshenPrime™ has also gone
through rigorous pharmacological studies for acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, teratogenicity, and
genotoxicity. The maximum acute toxicity for mice is 15g/Kg. This represents a dosage that is
hundreds of time greater than the dosage used in SleepWell™. All other ingredients in
SleepWell™ have been used in Eastern and Western cultures for centuries and have also been
reported from numerous pharmacological studies to be extremely safe, especially at the
comparatively low dosages included in SleepWell™.
Bureau of Agricultural Research
Department of Agriculture
Archives Volume No. 9 Issue No. 2 Feb 2008
Vol. 5 No. 8
August 1-31, 2004
Fungi: A solution to Manila's plastic woes
by Ma. Lizbeth J. Baroña
Today, we are living in the middle of a ticking time bomb- Manila’s garbage problem.
Metro Manila produces about 8,000 tons of solid waste each day and is expected to
reach 13,300 tons in 2014. With the lack of a proper waste management system, the
explosion of this metaphorical time bomb is a likely scenario in the near future. But,
there is good news yet. Scientists from the Institute of Biological Sciences in the
University of the Philippines Los Baños have found a new solution to Manila’s plastic
garbage- they have found fungal species that can decompose or cause plastic to rot.
Our love affair with plastics
We have a love affair with plastics. From Styrofoam cups in our favorite Starbucks café, Styrofoam containers at our
favorite fast food chains, to the ever-dependable plastic bag at the grocery store- plastics are virtually everywhere. In
fact, we probably use plastics hundreds of times a day without knowing it. We are all aware of the boon that plastic
has brought to our lives. Unfortunately, coupled with its benefits are its disadvantages to our environment where most
of them still end up as waste.
What is plastic?
Plastic is an extremely versatile synthetic material made from the polymerization of organic compounds.
Polymerization is a chemical process wherein a compound or a substance is made by adding smaller molecules.
They are made from finite, nonrenewable petroleum and natural gas.
While plastic products are cheap, making them is not. Plastics contain additives such as colorants, stabilizers, and
plasticizers that may include toxic substances such as cadmium and lead. It is because of these substances that
plastics may harm human health. For instance, plastic chemicals, such as ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride used
to produce vinyl are considered to be carcinogenic or cancer-causing. They may also trigger other health problems
such as liver, kidney and neurological damage.
Getting rid of plastics
It has been said that next to diamonds, plastics are forever. This has made disposal of used plastics a cause of
concern. Burning plastics is a no-no since plastic fumes can cause a wide range of ailments including skin diseases,
asthma, and some forms of cancer. Burning plastics releases noxious smoke and may release cancer-causing gases
into the air which people downwind have to breathe. Burying plastics with other wastes can contaminate soil and
groundwater. Even recycling, widely endorsed to reduce solid wastes, does not effectively reduce the volume of used
In the Philippines, approximately 120,000 tons of plastics are generated each year, 50 percent of
which end up in open dumping sites that are distributed in cities near Manila.
Biodegradation: A new way of getting rid of plastic
Scientists from the Institute of Biological Sciences in UPLB have found a new way of decomposing plastics. The new
method is called biodegradation, the process of degrading waste material through the use of microorganisms such as
fungi and bacteria. They isolated two kinds of bacteria- Penicillium sp, and Aspergillus sp and one type of fungi called
Among the microorganisms, they reported that Xylaria sp. performed the best in degrading the plastic sheets. In a
follow-up study, the scientists found that the Xylaria fungus grows best at 25°C and at pH 5. These were the optimum
conditions where the fungus grew vigorously using a mineral medium with 0.5% glucose and plastic strips as co-
carbon source. Fifty days after incubation, the scientists reported that the plastic strips were embedded in the
mycelial mat and results of scanning electron microscopy showed that there were already visible damages on the
surface of the plastic strips.