Identification of the bacterial community that degrades phenanthrene sorbed to polystyrene nanoplastics using DNA-based stable isotope probing

Stephen Summers, Mohammad Sufian Bin Hudari, Clayton Magill, Theodore B. Henry, Tony Gutierrez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

In the Anthropocene, plastic pollution has become a new environmental biotope, the so-called plastisphere. In the oceans, nano- and micro-sized plastics are omnipresent and found in huge quantities throughout the water column and sediment, and their large surface area-to-volume ratio offers an excellent surface to which hydrophobic chemical pollutants (e.g. petrochemicals and POPs) can readily sorb to. Our understanding of the microbial communities that breakdown plastic-sorbed chemical pollutants, however, remains poor. Here, we investigated the formation of 500 nm and 1000 nm polystyrene (PS) agglomerations in natural seawater from a coastal environment, and we applied DNA-based stable isotope probing (DNA-SIP) with the 500 nm PS sorbed with isotopically-labelled phenanthrene to identify the bacterial members in the seawater community capable of degrading the hydrocarbon. Whilst we observed no significant impact of nanoplastic size on the microbial communities associated with agglomerates that formed in these experiments, these communities were, however, significantly different to those in the surrounding seawater. By DNA-SIP, we identified Arcobacteraceae, Brevundimonas, Comamonas, uncultured Comamonadaceae, Delftia, Sphingomonas and Staphylococcus, as well as the first member of the genera Acidiphilum and Pelomonas to degrade phenanthrene, and of the genera Aquabacterium, Paracoccus and Polymorphobacter to degrade a hydrocarbon. This work provides new information that feeds into our growing understanding on the fate of co-pollutants associated with nano- and microplastics in the ocean.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5229
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • DNA-SIP
  • Marine snow
  • Microplastics
  • Nanoplastics
  • Phenanthrene

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