Published on 09 Oct 2020

Congratulations to Associate Professor Cao Bin on the award of NERC-NRF Joint Grant!

Project Title: Microbial transformation of plastics in SE Asian seas: A hazard and a solution

South East Asian seas receive outputs from five of the top ten nations for marine emission of plastic debris, resulting in public concern about the impacts of this pollution on the health of this vulnerable marine environment.

Reducing the threat of plastic pollution is especially critical to the region because coastal waters provide diverse ecosystem services supporting economic growth, food supply and livelihoods, particularly in coastal regions where over 70% of the approximately 650 million human population in South East (SE) Asia. Of particular concern, is the region’s plastic production is increasing at a rate higher than the global average, driven by a market value of USD 3.4 billion.

To address the growing problem, we need to understand environmental transformation of plastic better and to analyze the resulting adverse effects. A critical knowledge gap regarding its transformation is the role played by microorganisms, which quickly colonize plastic surfaces and form a biofilm to become an integral component of the marine plastic debris.

The objective of this project is to explore the interactions between marine plastic debris and the biofilms associated with them in order to understand the role of biofilms in microbial transformation of plastics in the SE Asia marine ecosystems.