How biofilms affect the uptake and fate of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) in microplastic: Insights from an In situ study of Xiangshan Bay, China

Catégorie : Plastisphère
Date :4 décembre 2020
Jin, Meng; Yu, Xubiao; Yao, Zhiyuan; Tao, Peiran; Li, Gang; Yu, Xinwei; Zhao, Jian-Liang; Peng, Jinping.
Water Research : 184
Microplastic (MP) has been identified as an emerging vector that transports hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) across aquatic environments due to its hydrophobic surfaces and small size. However, it is also recognized that environmental factors affect MP’s chemical vector effects and that attached biofilms could play a major role, although the specific mechanisms remain unclear. To explore this issue, an in situ experiment was conducted at Xiangshan Bay of southeastern China, and dynamics of HOCs (i.e., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)) and bacterial communities related to the model MP (i.e., PE fibers) were analyzed and compared. Through bacterial characterizations including the 16S rRNA approach, higher summer temperatures (31.4 1.07 degrees C) were found to promote colonizing bacterial assemblages with larger biomasses, higher activity and more degrading bacteria than winter temperatures (13.3 +/- 2.49 degrees C). Consequently, some sorbed pollutants underwent significant decline in the summer, and this decline was particularly the case for PAHs with low (2-3 rings) and median (4 rings) molecular weights such as phenanthrene (59.4 +/- 1.6%), chrysene (70.6 +/- 4.2%), fluoranthene (77.1 +/- 13.3%) and benz[a]anthracene (71.5 +/- 11.0%). In our winter test, however, most pollutants underwent a consistent increase throughout the 8-week exposure period. Moreover, more biorefractory pollutants including PCBs and high molecular weight (5-6 rings) PAHs accumulated regardless of bacterial characteristics. Two putative PAH-degrading bacteria appeared with high relative abundances during the summer test, i.e., family Rhodobacteraceae (18.6 +/- 0.5%) and genus Sphingomicrobium (22.4 +/- 3.6%), associated with drastic decreases in low (45.2 +/- 0.4%) and median (66.0 +/- 2.5%) molecular weight PAHs, respectively. Bacterial degradation effects of biofilms on PAHs are also supported by the correlative dynamics of salicylic acid, an important degradation intermediate of PAHs. The results of this study indicate that MP’s HOC vector effects are essentially determined by interactions between attached pollutants and microbial assemblages, which are further related to bacterial activity and pollutant features. Further studies of biofilm effects on MP toxicity and on the metabolic pathways of MP-attached HOCs are required.