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:6/22/2016)... WASHINGTON , June 22, 2016 On ... highly-anticipated call to industry to share solutions for the ... by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that ... nationals are departing the United States ... criminals, and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to ... hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... June 2, 2016   The Weather Company , an ... Ads, an industry-first capability in which consumers will be able ... to ask questions via voice or text and receive relevant ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution ... can be personal, relevant and valuable; and can scale across ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 01, 2016 , ... ... findings demonstrating the value of DNA microarray comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) ... Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Using molecular test results from tumors with previously ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... , ... December 01, 2016 , ... The Conference Forum ... to three days and will take place on February 1-3, 2017 at the Roosevelt ... James Gulley (NCI), the program provides a unique 360-degree approach, which addresses the most ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... ... December 02, 2016 , ... ... dedicated to collaboratively developing improved chemistry, manufacturing and control technologies for the ... UHPLC, with robust, probe-based sampling. , Online liquid chromatography analysis is ...
(Date:12/2/2016)... The immunohistochemistry (IHC) market is projected to reach ... during the forecast period of 2016 to 2021 dominated by immunohistochemistry ... the largest share of immunohistochemistry (IHC) market, by end user.   ... , , ... across 225 pages, profiling 10 companies and supported with 181 tables ...
Breaking Biology Technology: