Publication details.


Author(s):M. Latva, C. Dedman, R. Wright, M. Polin, J. Christie-Oleza
Title:Microbial pioneers of plastic colonisation in coastal seawaters
Abstract:© 2022 The AuthorsPlastics, when entering the environment, are immediately colonised by microorganisms. This modifies their physico-chemical properties as well as their transport and fate in natural ecosystems, but whom pioneers this colonisation in marine ecosystems? Previous studies have focused on microbial communities that develop on plastics after relatively long incubation periods (i.e., days to months), but very little data is available regarding the earliest stages of colonisation on buoyant plastics in marine waters (i.e., minutes or hours). We conducted a preliminary study where the earliest hours of microbial colonisation on buoyant plastics in marine coastal waters were investigated by field incubations and amplicon sequencing of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities. Our results show that members of the Bacteroidetes group pioneer microbial attachment to plastics but, over time, their presence is masked by other groups – Gammaproteobacteria at first and later by Alphaproteobacteria. Interestingly, the eukaryotic community on plastics exposed to sunlight became dominated by phototrophic organisms from the phylum Ochrophyta, diatoms at the start and brown algae towards the end of the three-day incubations. This study defines the pioneering microbial community that colonises plastics immediately when entering coastal marine environments and that may set the seeding Plastisphere of plastics in the oceans.

Related staff

  • Marco Polin
  • Related departments

  • Marine Ecology