Marine microbes in the Plastic Age

We are living in the ‘Plastic Age’, but unfortunately our non-human relatives with whom we share our planet are not adapted to cope with the thousands of tons of plastic waste entering rivers, seas and oceans each year. Plastic poses both physical and chemical threats to aquatic life. It leads to damage or death of animals following plastic entanglement or ingestion and/or can lead to bioaccumulation of co-pollutants absorbed on plastic surfaces. Once ingested, co-pollutants can be absorbed into tissues and accumulated in the food chain. As nature’s biodegraders and recyclers, microorganisms may play a role in mitigating the impact of our disposable plastic lifestyle, or alternatively, plastic may serve as a vector for transport of pathogenic microorganisms into marine fauna. Here, we review current understanding of the microbiology of marine plastics and highlight future challenges for this emerging research discipline. (…)

Mark Osborn and Slobodanka Stojkovic, Microbiology Australia, CSIRO, 4 pages, October 2014

The article

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