Pathogen concentration on microplastics and associated ecotoxicity in the marine environment

Project Details

Description

Microplastics provide stable surfaces in the aquatic environment for microbial attachments and growth. It is thought that a major proportion of microplastics in the environment originate from sewage treatment systems, where surfaces have been exposed to high levels of pathogens. In preliminary studies, microplastic surfaces enable the concentration of the microbes from the water column. We have developed a hypothesis that microplastics provide a stable habitat to enable pathogen concentration and survival in the aquatic environment and provide an effective route for pathogen transmission, constituting a critical emerging risk in the environment. Laboratory studies to investigate the colonisation of microplastics with different faecal pathogens will be performed and compared to plastics deployed using the Petersfield sewage treatment system to obtain in situ microbial recruitment numbers. Studies have linked microplastics to reduced oyster health and reproduction, however, as yet it is unclear how the microplastics reduce viability of oysters. Sterile and contaminated microplastics exposed to faecal pathogens in the laboratory, will be used in a series of exposure experiments with oysters to determine the effects of contaminated microplastics on oyster health and viability. This study will provide the first evaluation of pathogen concentration on microplastics and their harmful toxicological environmental effects.

Layman's description

We proposed that microplastics from sewage releases provide a stable habitat to enable pathogen growth and survival in the environment and could provide an effective route for pathogen transmission. In this study clean and contaminated microplastics exposed to faecal pathogens in the laboratory, were used in experiments with oysters to determine the effects of contaminated microplastics on oyster health.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/07/1831/07/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation

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