Sediment-driven plastisphere community assembly on plastic debris in tropical coastal and marine environments

Jonas Koh, Sakcham Bairoliya, Maria Salta, Zin Thida Cho, Jenny Fong, Mei Lin Neo, Simon Cragg, Bin Cao

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Coastal habitats have been suggested to serve as a sink for unaccounted plastic debris, i.e., “missing plastic” in the sea, and hence, a hotspot of plastic pollution in the marine and coastal environments. Although the accumulation of plastic debris may pose significant threats to coastal ecosystems, we know little about the fate of these plastic debris and their ecological impacts due to the lack of studies on plastic-microbe interactions in coastal habitats, especially for the tropical marine and coastal environments. In this study, we collected plastic debris from 14 sites consisting of various coastal ecosystems (seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and beaches), and marine ecosystem (coral reef) around Singapore and characterized the prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial communities colonized on them. Our results showed that the composition of plastisphere communities in these intertidal ecosystems was predominantly influenced by the sediment than by the plastic materials. Compared with surrounding sediment and seawater, the plastic debris enriched potential plastic degraders, such as Muricauda, Halomonas, and Brevundimonas. The plastic debris was also found to host taxa that play significant roles in biogeochemical cycles (e.g., cyanobacteria, Erythrobacter), hygienically relevant bacteria (e.g., Chryseobacterium, Brevundimonas), and potential pathogens that may negatively impact the health of coastal ecosystems (e.g., Thraustochytriaceae, Labyrinthulaceae, Flavobacterium). Taken together, our study provides valuable insights into the plastic-microbe interactions in tropical coastal and marine ecosystems, highlighting the urgent need for plastisphere studies to understand the fate and ecological impacts of plastic debris accumulated in coastal habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108153
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date20 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Southeast Asian seas
  • Tropical coastal ecosystems
  • Marine plastic debris
  • Plastic-microbe interaction
  • Plastisphere
  • UKRI
  • NERC
  • NE/V009516/1

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