Microbe-microplastic interactions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: School of Life Sciences

Abstract

Plastic pollution is a global problem with microplastic particles found in almost all kinds of environments ranging from freshwater bodies to beaches and estuaries, from the deep sea to arctic ice and from sediments to atmospheric fallout. Microplastics are also present in the food webs and drinking water, while the consequences for the environment and organisms within remain largely unknown. In marine environments, microplastic particles can be ingested by numerous organisms, but they also serve as novel ecological habitats, hosting diverse microbial communities labelled as the Plastisphere. These communities differ distinctly from those floating free in the surrounding water, with plastic-specific assemblages developing under certain conditions. Species associated with hydrocarbon degradation have been found to contribute to the biofilm composition on microplastic particles, but it is unclear whether these organisms are in fact able to degrade plastics in the environment.
The fate and interactions of marine microplastics are not well understood, although microbial interactions presumably have the potential to alter the physical properties of microplastics and may therefore influence their fate and impacts in the environment. The objective of this PhD project is to clarify the dynamics of microbe-microplastic interactions and their effects on the physico-chemical properties of microplastic particles by combining research methods from physics and environmental microbiology.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1897899 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 02/10/2017 30/09/2021 Mira Hannele Latva