Plastic pellets and microbes are important constitutes in sediment, but the significance of microbes colonizing on plastic pellets to the environmental fate and transport of organic contaminants has not been adequately recognized and assessed. To address this issue, low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyoxymethylene (POM) and polypropylene (PP) slices were preloaded with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and incubated in abiotic and biotic sediment microcosms. Images from scanning electron microscope, Lysogeny Broth agar plates and confocal laser scanning microscope indicated that all polymer slices incubated in biotic sediments were colonized by microorganisms, particularly the LDPE slices. The occurrence of bioﬁlms induced higher dissipation rates of DDTs and PAHs from the LDPE slice surfaces incubated in the biotic sediments than in the abiotic sediments. Plastic colonization on LDPE slice surfaces enhanced the biotransformation of DDT and some PAHs in both marine and river sediments, but had little impact on PCBs. By comparison, PP and POM with unique properties were shown to exert different impacts on the physical and microbial activities as compared to LDPE. These results clearly demonstrated that the significance of polymer surface affiliated microbes to the environmental fate and behavior of organic contaminants should be recognized.
Chen-Chou Wu, Lian-Jun Bao, Liang-Ying Liu, Lei Shi, Shu Tao, and Eddy Y. Zeng, Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript, August 21, 2017