The accumulation of plastic in the marine environment is a long-known issue, but the potential relevance of this pollution for the ocean has been recognised only recently. Within this context, microplastic fragments (<5 mm) represent an emerging topic. Owing to their small size, they are readily ingested by marine wildlife and can accumulate in the food web, along with associated toxins and microorganisms colonising the plastic. We are starting to understand that plastic biofilms are diverse and are, comparably with non-plastic biofilms, driven by a complex network of influences, mainly spatial and seasonal factors, but also polymer type, texture and size of the substratum. Within this context, we should raise the question about the potential of plastic particles to serve as vectors for harmful microorganisms. The main focus of the review is the discussion of first insights and research gaps related to microplastic-associated microbial biofilm communities.
Sonja Oberbeckmann, Martin G. J. Löder and Matthias Labrenz, Environmental Chemistry, 12 (5), 551-562, September 2015