A team of scientists from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has found both potential threats and promising resources in the thriving colonies of bacteria and fungi on plastic trash washed up on Singapore shores.
Image: (From left to right) Associate Professor Cao Bin, at the School of CEE, and Principal Investigator at SCELSE; Jonas Koh, SCELSE PhD student
When plastics enter the ocean, microorganisms attach to and colonise them, forming an ecological community known as the ‘Plastisphere’. Despite the millions of tonnes of plastic trash in the world's oceans, little is known about how the plastisphere assembles and interacts with its plastic hosts in tropical marine environments.
To understand the plastic-microbes interaction, NTU researchers extracted DNA information of plastispheres gathered from 14 coastal locations in Singapore. They found potential plastic-eating bacteria and harmful microbes thriving on the samples.
Image: (From left to right) Jonas Koh, SCELSE PhD student; Zin Thida Cho, Research Associate at School of CEE and SCELSE; Dr Sakcham Bairoliya, NTU Research Fellow at the School of CEE, and SCELSE
The study, published in Environment International in September, is among the few plastisphere studies in the Southeast Asian tropical marine and coastal environment, including coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, beaches, and open waters.
Related media releases
- NTU Singapore scientists find both potential threats and promising resources in the thriving colonies of bacteria and fungi on ocean plastic trash (NTU News Release)
- Thriving colonies of potentially harmful bacteria found on plastic trash in the ocean (NTUsg, Youtube)
- SCELSE-NTU shows ocean plastic trash home to potentially harmful & promising resources of microbes (SCELSE, Youtube)
- Harmful bacteria could be the key to breaking down plastic waste faster, scientists find (ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Asia News article)