Microbial carrying capacity and carbon biomass of plastic marine debris

Catégorie : Plastisphère
Date :17 septembre 2020
Zhao, Shiye; Zettler, Erik R.; Amaral-Zettler, Linda A.; Mincer, Tracy J.
Isme Journal
Trillions of plastic debris fragments are floating at sea, presenting a substantial surface area for microbial colonization. Numerous cultivation-independent surveys have characterized plastic-associated microbial biofilms, however, quantitative studies addressing microbial carbon biomass are lacking. Our confocal laser scanning microscopy data show that early biofilm development on polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and glass substrates displayed variable cell size, abundance, and carbon biomass, whereas these parameters stabilized in mature biofilms. Unexpectedly, plastic substrates presented lower volume proportions of photosynthetic cells after 8 weeks, compared to glass. Early biofilms displayed the highest proportions of diatoms, which could influence the vertical transport of plastic debris. In total, conservative estimates suggest 2.1 x 10(21)to 3.4 x 10(21)cells, corresponding to about 1% of the microbial cells in the ocean surface microlayer (1.5 x 10(3)to 1.1 x 10(4)tons of carbon biomass), inhabit plastic debris globally. As an unnatural addition to sea surface waters, the large quantity of cells and biomass carried by plastic debris has the potential to impact biodiversity, autochthonous ecological functions, and biogeochemical cycles within the ocean.