Plastics in the North Atlantic garbage patch: A boat-microbe for hitchhikers and plastic degraders

Plastic is a broad name given to different polymers with high molecular weight that impact wildlife. Their fragmentation leads to a continuum of debris sizes (meso to microplastics) entrapped in gyres and colonized by microorganisms. In the present work, the structure of eukaryotes, bacteria and Archaea was studied by a metabarcoding approach, and statistical analysis associated with network building was used to define a core microbiome at the plastic surface. Most of the bacteria significantly associated with the plastic waste originated from non-marine ecosystems, and numerous species can be considered as hitchhikers, whereas others act as keystone species (e.g., Rhodobacterales, Rhizobiales, Streptomycetales and Cyanobacteria) in the biofilm. The chemical analysis provides evidence for a specific colonization of the polymers. Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria significantly dominated mesoplastics consisting of poly(ethylene terephthalate) and polystyrene. Polyethylene was also dominated by these bacterial classes and Actinobacteria. Microplastics were made of polyethylene but differed in their crystallinity, and the majorities were colonized by Betaproteobacteria. Our study indicated that the bacteria inhabiting plastics harboured distinct metabolisms from those present in the surrounding water. For instance, the metabolic pathway involved in xenobiotic degradation was overrepresented on the plastic surface.

Debroas Didier, Mone Anne, Ter Halle Alexandra, Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 599–600, 1 December 2017, Pages 1222–1232

The article

Quantification and characterization of microplastics in blue mussels (Mytilus edulis): protocol setup and preliminary data on the contamination of the French Atlantic coast

Microplastics (MPs) constitute a main environmental issue due to their threat to marine organisms and so far to humans. The lack of a fast standard protocol in MP isolation and identification from living organisms bring to challenge for the science. In this paper, an optimized protocol using potassium hydroxide 10% (KOH 10%; m/v) for digestion of mussel soft tissues (Mytilus edulis) and multi-steps of sedimentation has been developed. Efficiency higher than 99.9% of organic and mineral matter elimination was shown by application on mussels sampled on the French Atlantic coast. The identification of MPs was performed by FTIR microscopy straight on the filter and the whole analysis can be compatible with a routine goal. Fourteen MPs of four different chemical natures were found and identified in 5 pools of 3 sampled mussels. Their size ranged from 30 to 200 μm. Further investigations are now needed to evaluate the potential risk of such particles within this marine bivalve species and other filter feeders.

Nam Ngoc Phuong, Aurore Zalouk-Vergnoux, Abderrahmane Kamari,Catherine Mouneyrac, Frederic Amiard, Laurence Poirier, Fabienne Lagarde, Environ Sci Pollut Res (April 2017), online first, pages 1-10

The article

Marine litter on the seafloor of the Faial-Pico Passage, Azores Archipelago

Plastic pollution in the marine environment attracts much attention from both researchers and the general public. Plastic items and other debris are commonly observed everywhere in the ocean, from the surface down to the deep ocean floor. In this study, we analysed 45.2 km of video footage, collected during 56 transects surveying the seafloor of the Faial-Pico Passage in order to quantify the abundance of marine litter and its interactions with benthic fauna. The footage was collected by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and a manned submersible at depths ranging between 40 and 525 m. The mean litter density in the passage was 0.26 ± 0.03 items·100 m− 1 (± SE) and was significantly higher between 151 and 250 m compared to other depth strata. Overall, derelict fishing gear, mostly made of plastic, were the most common objects found on the seafloor, representing 64% of all items. Although we observed few evidence of direct deleterious effects by the litter, interactions with fauna were observed in more than half of the items. This study makes an important contribution in quantifying the abundance of marine litter on the seafloor of the Azores. The location of the Faial-Pico Passage, close to shore, makes it an appropriate site for long-term monitoring of litter on the seafloor and evaluate the efficiency of upcoming public policies aimed at reducing litter input into the oceans.

Yasmina Rodríguez, Christopher K. Pham, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 448–453

The article

Microplastic abundance, distribution and composition along a latitudinal gradient in the Atlantic Ocean

Microplastics in the world’s oceans are a global concern due to the potential threat they pose to marine organisms. This study investigated microplastic abundance, distribution and composition in the Atlantic Ocean on a transect from the Bay of Biscay to Cape Town, South Africa. Microplastics were sampled from sub-surface waters using the underway system of the RV Polarstern. Potential microplastics were isolated from samples and FT-IR spectroscopy was used to identify polymer types. Of the particles analysed, 63% were rayon and 37% were synthetic polymers. The majority of microplastics were identified as polyesters (49%) and blends of polyamide or acrylic/polyester (43%). Overall, fibres (94%) were predominant. Average microplastic abundance in the Atlantic Ocean was 1.15 ± 1.45 particles m− 3. Of the 76 samples, 14 were from the Benguela upwelling and there was no statistically significant difference in microplastic abundance between upwelled and non-upwelled sites.

La Daana K. Kanhai, Rick Officer, Olga Lyashevska, Richard C. Thompson, Ian O’Connor, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 115, Issues 1–2, 15 February 2017, Pages 307–314

The article

Marine litter, future prospects for research

As far back as 1870, i.e., about 150 years ago, Jules Verne described the accumulation of debris in the convergence zone of the North Atlantic Ocean in his famous novel entitled “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.” Many scientific reports have addressed this topic since and our main concern today is the ever increasing volume of marine litter invading the oceans in various and complex ways. One of the current main challenges is assessing the final destination of this litter. To date, its adverse effects on marine life have only occasionally been investigated and many questions remain unanswered. In addition to efforts to monitor and reduce litter, recent literature has underlined the scientific community’s focus on specific issues such as (i) the evaluation of sources and inputs, (ii) transport and distribution at sea, (iii) the transport of litter and, in particular, plastics within the food web, and (iv) the types of chemicals and organisms likely to sorb or settle on debris and how they can be rafted over long distances. It is important to address these questions in a more detailed manner.

F. Galgani, Frontiers in Marine Science, 5 pages, October 2015

The article

Low plastic ingestion rate in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) from Newfoundland destined for human consumption collected through citizen science methods

Marine microplastics are a contaminant of concern because their small size allows ingestion by a wide range of marine life. Using citizen science during the Newfoundland recreational cod fishery, we sampled 205 Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) destined for human consumption and found that 5 had eaten plastic, an ingestion prevalence rate of 2.4%. This ingestion rate for Atlantic cod is the second lowest recorded rate in the reviewed published literature (the lowest is 1.4%), and the lowest for any fish in the North Atlantic. This is the first report for plastic ingestion in fish in Newfoundland, Canada, a province dependent on fish for sustenance and livelihoods.

Max Liboiron, France Liboiron, Emily Wells, Natalie Richárd, Alexander Zahara, Charles Mather, Hillary Bradshaw, Judyannet Murichi, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 113, Issues 1–2, 15 December 2016, Pages 428–437

The article

Study and analyse of spatial distribution of waste in the southern Atlantic of Morocco

The ocean remains one of the most mysterious and diverse places on Earth. Unfortunately, nowadays our oceans are much polluted: discarded plastic, industrial waste and unwanted fishing nets. This is still a growing problem for the world’s oceans and constitute a threat to both people and oceanic life.

This paper aims to identify and localize the ocean waste pollutant in the Atlantic Ocean of Morocco. To achieve this goal, we participated in a scientific trawling survey made by the National Institute of Fisheries Research (INRH) in the southern Moroccan Atlantic area. Our sampling network consisting of 100 stations distributed in a random method. Several types of waste found in the sea are mainly made of glass, metal, fishing equipment and octopus pots that are used in artisanal fishing for octopus hunting, also a large amount of plastic was found such as bottles, plastic bags, etc.

To analyze the collected information, GIS tools and statistical analysis were used. The result shows that 80% of the southern Moroccan Atlantic ocean wastes are plastic followed by metal, textile, rubber and glass. The concentration of these wastes is usually correlated to a set of factors such as the proximity to the artisanal fishes sites, and to the current effect.

Safia Loulad, Rachida Houssa, Abdellatif Boumaaz, Hassane Rhinane, Omar Saddiqi, Proceedings, 6th International Conference on Cartography and GIS, 13-17 June 2016, Albena, Bulgaria ISSN: 1314-0604, Eds: Bandrova T., Konecny M.

The document