Microbes on a bottle: Substrate, season and geography influence community composition of microbes colonizing marine plastic debris

Oberbeckmann, S, Osborn, A and Duhaime, M 2016, 'Microbes on a bottle: Substrate, season and geography influence community composition of microbes colonizing marine plastic debris', PL o S One, vol. 11, no. 8, e0159289, pp. 1-24.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Microbes on a bottle: Substrate, season and geography influence community composition of microbes colonizing marine plastic debris
Author(s) Oberbeckmann, S
Osborn, A
Duhaime, M
Year 2016
Journal name PL o S One
Volume number 11
Issue number 8
Article Number e0159289
Start page 1
End page 24
Total pages 24
Publisher Public Library of Science
Abstract Plastic debris pervades in our oceans and freshwater systems and the potential ecosystem-level impacts of this anthropogenic litter require urgent evaluation. Microbes readily colonize aquatic plastic debris and members of these biofilm communities are speculated to include pathogenic, toxic, invasive or plastic degrading-species. The influence of plastic-colonizing microorganisms on the fate of plastic debris is largely unknown, as is the role of plastic in selecting for unique microbial communities. This work aimed to characterize microbial biofilm communities colonizing single-use poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) drinking bottles, determine their plastic-specificity in contrast with seawater and glass-colonizing communities, and identify seasonal and geographical influences on the communities. A substrate recruitment experiment was established in which PET bottles were deployed for 5-6 weeks at three stations in the North Sea in three different seasons. The structure and composition of the PET-colonizing bacterial/archaeal and eukaryotic communities varied with season and station. Abundant PET-colonizing taxa belonged to the phylum Bacteroidetes (e.g. Flavobacteriaceae, Cryomorphaceae, Saprospiraceae-all known to degrade complex carbon substrates) and diatoms (e.g. Coscinodiscophytina, Bacillariophytina). The PET-colonizing microbial communities differed significantly from free-living communities, but from particle-associated (>3 μm) communities or those inhabiting glass substrates. These data suggest that microbial community assembly on plastics is driven by conventional marine biofilm processes, with the plastic surface serving as raft for attachment, rather than selecting for recruitment of plastic-specific microbial colonizers.
Subject Microbial Ecology
Environmental Impact Assessment
DOI - identifier 10.1371/journal.pone.0159289
Copyright notice Copyright: © 2016 Oberbeckmann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
ISSN 1932-6203
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