Colonization of Polystyrene Microparticles by Vibrio crassostreae: Light and Electron Microscopic Investigation

Microplastics collected at sea harbor a high diversity of microorganisms, including some Vibrio genus members, raising questions about the role of microplastics as a novel ecological niche for potentially pathogenic microorganisms. In the present study, we investigated the adhesion dynamics of Vibrio crassostreae on polystyrene microparticles (micro-PS) using electronic and fluorescence microscopy techniques. Micro-PS were incubated with bacteria in different media (Zobell culture medium and artificial seawater) with or without natural marine aggregates. The highest percentage of colonized particles (38–100%) was observed in Zobell culture medium, which may be related to nutrient availability for production of pili and exopolysaccharide adhesion structures. A longer bacterial attachment (6 days) was observed on irregular micro-PS compared to smooth particles (<10 h), but complete decolonization of all particles eventually occurred. The presence of natural marine agreggates around micro-PS led to substantial and perennial colonization featuring monospecific biofilms at the surface of the aggregates. These exploratory results suggest that V. crassostreae may be a secondary colonizer of micro-PS, requiring a multispecies community to form a durable adhesion phenotype. Temporal assessment of microbial colonization on microplastics at sea using imaging and omics approaches are further indicated to better understand the microplastics colonization dynamics and species assemblages.

Valentin Foulon, Frédérique Le Roux, Christophe Lambert, Arnaud Huvet, Philippe Soudant, and Ika Paul-Pont, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2016, 50 (20), pp 10988–10996

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