Rapid aggregation of biofilm-covered microplastics with marine biogenic particles

Michels, Jan, Stippkugel, Angela, Lenz, Mark, Wirtz, Kai and Engel, Anja (2018) Rapid aggregation of biofilm-covered microplastics with marine biogenic particles Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 285 (1885). p. 20181203. DOI 10.1098/rspb.2018.1203.

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Abstract

Ocean plastic pollution has resulted in a substantial accumulation of microplastics in the marine environment. Today, this plastic litter is ubiquitous in the oceans, including even remote habitats such as deep-sea sediments and polar sea ice, and it is believed to pose a threat to ecosystem health. However, the concentration of microplastics in the surface layer of the oceans is considerably lower than expected, given the ongoing replenishment of microplastics and the tendency of many plastic types to float. It has been hypothesized that microplastics leave the upper ocean by aggregation and subsequent sedimentation. We tested this hypothesis by investigating the interactions of microplastics with marine biogenic particles collected in the southwestern Baltic Sea. Our laboratory experiments revealed a large potential of microplastics to rapidly coagulate with biogenic particles, which substantiates this hypothesis. Together with the biogenic particles, the microplastics efficiently formed pronounced aggregates within a few days. The aggregation of microplastics and biogenic particles was significantly accelerated by microbial biofilms that had formed on the plastic surfaces. We assume that the demonstrated aggregation behaviour facilitates the export of microplastics from the surface layer of the oceans and plays an important role in the redistribution of microplastics in the oceans.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: marine plastic pollution, microbial biofilms, microplastics aggregation behaviour
Research affiliation: Kiel University > Kiel Marine Science
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
HZG
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1203
ISSN: 0962-8452
Projects: Future Ocean, OCEANS, PACES
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2018 08:21
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2019 09:30
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/44088

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