<h4>Mealworms thrive on Styrofoam diet<\/h4>\r\nThe common mealworm may be able to eat a way out of the global plastic problem. Stanford engineers, in collaboration with researchers in China, have found that mealworms, the larval form of the darkling beetle, can live on a diet of plastic waste, specifically Styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene.\r\n\r\nIt turns out that the gut of a mealworm contains microorganisms that biodegrade plastic, a surprising finding published in two companion studies co-authored by Wei-Min Wu, a senior research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford.\r\n\r\nTesting the mealworm\u2019s \u201ciron gut\u201d on different types of plastic is the next step in research that offers tremendous potential to develop solutions for managing plastic waste. Other avenues of inquiry include identifying a marine version of the mealworm that could eat through plastic accumulating in the ocean.\r\n\r\nCraig Criddle, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, is collaborating with Wu and an international team of researchers to learn more about the mealworm\u2019s digestive capabilities. Criddle\u2019s plastics research was originally funded in 2004 by the Stanford Woods Institute\u2019s Environmental Venture Projects. The program supports Stanford\u2019s long-standing commitment to advance innovative environmental research and find solutions to global sustainability problems.\r\n\r\nRead <a href="http:\/\/news.stanford.edu\/news\/2015\/september\/worms-digest-plastics-092915.html">more<\/a> about the \u201cmighty mealworm\u201d and its potential to impact the plastic pollution problem.