Navigation Links
Microbial answer to plastic pollution?
Date:3/28/2010

Fragments of plastic in the ocean are not just unsightly but potentially lethal to marine life. Coastal microbes may offer a smart solution to clean up plastic contamination, according to Jesse Harrison presenting his research at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh today.

The researchers from the University of Sheffield and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science have shown that the combination of marine microbes that can grow on plastic waste varies significantly from microbial groups that colonise surfaces in the wider environment. This raises the possibility that the plastic-associated marine microbes have different activities that could contribute to the breakdown of these plastics or the toxic chemicals associated with them.

Plastic waste is a long-term problem as its breakdown in the environment may require thousands of years. "Plastics form a daily part of our lives and are treated as disposable by consumers. As such plastics comprise the most abundant and rapidly growing component of man-made litter entering the oceans," explained Jesse Harrison.

Over time the size of plastic fragments in the oceans decreases as a result of exposure to natural forces. Tiny fragments of 5 mm or less are called "microplastics" and are particularly dangerous as they can absorb toxic chemicals which are transported to marine animals when ingested.

While microbes are the most numerous organisms in the marine environment, this is the first DNA-based study to investigate how they interact with plastic fragments. The new study investigated the attachment of microbes to fragments of polyethylene a plastic commonly used for shopping bags. The scientists found that the plastic was rapidly colonised by multiple species of bacteria that congregated together to form a 'biofilm' on its surface. Interestingly, the biofilm was only formed by certain types of marine bacteria.

The group, led by Dr. Mark Osborn at Sheffield, plans to investigate how the microbial interaction with microplastics varies across different habitats within the coastal seabed research which they believe could have huge environmental benefits. "Microbes play a key role in the sustaining of all marine life and are the most likely of all organisms to break down toxic chemicals, or even the plastics themselves," suggested Mr Harrison. "This kind of research is also helping us unravel the global environmental impacts of plastic pollution," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Laura Udakis
l.udakis@sgm.ac.uk
44-118-988-1843
Society for General Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scientists decipher mechanism behind antimicrobial hole punchers
2. Cystic fibrosis patients may breathe easier, thanks to bioengineered antimicrobials
3. Hydrothermal vents: Hot spots of microbial diversity
4. Microbial biofilms evoke Jekyll & Hyde effects
5. Microbial fuel cells turn on the juice
6. Latest Integrated Microbial Genomes data management system update release
7. Bioinformatics technology developed at Argonne provides new insight into microbial activities
8. Genes selective signature aids detection of natural selection in microbial evolution
9. Climate changing gas from some surprising microbial liaisons
10. Expanded histology methods book covers processing of animal, plant, and microbial tissues
11. Undergraduates develop dirt-powered microbial fuel cells to light Africa
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Microbial answer to plastic pollution?
(Date:3/17/2016)... March 17, 2016 ABI Research, the ... the global biometrics market will reach more than ... increase from 2015. Consumer electronics, particularly smartphones, continue ... sensors anticipated to reach two billion shipments by ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Research Analyst at ABI Research. ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... March 11, 2016 http://www.apimages.com ) - ... Picture is available at AP Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - ... be used to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will ... at CeBIT in Hanover next week.   ... will be used to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... 9, 2016 Nigeria ... more than 23,000 public service employees either did not ... their salary unlawfully.    --> Nigeria ... that more than 23,000 public service employees either did ... receiving their salary unlawfully.    --> DERMALOG, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/22/2016)... ... May 22, 2016 , ... Doctors in Rome say micronutrients ... asbestos cancer, malignant mesothelioma. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted an article on the new ... of Rome’s Department of Clinical Sciences and Translational Medicine evaluated more than 150 studies ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... , ... May 20, 2016 , ... Kablooe Design, a ... companies, today announced its official 25th anniversary of the business. “We have worked hard ... grateful to our customers for the privilege and honor of serving their product design ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... ... May 20, 2016 , ... The recent recall by Costco and Trader Joes ... News on May 12, 2016(1), demonstrates the need for faster and more cost effective ... firm, PathSensors, Inc. , PathSensor’s latest solution uses a biosensor technology ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... , May 19, 2016  AdvancedFlow Systems Inc. ... (AGI), based out of Maple Ridge, ... Ltd. to its existing portfolio of contract manufacturing ... AFS along with its sister companies Surround Technologies ... vertically integrated industrial group that specializes in providing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: