Plastisphere composition in a subtropical estuary: influence of season, incubation time and polymer type on plastic biofouling

Sérvulo, Tobias; Taylor, Joe D. ORCID:; Proietti, Maíra C.; Rodrigues, Lucas d.S.; Puertas, Igor P.; Barutot, Roberta A.; Lacerda, Ana L.d.F.. 2023 Plastisphere composition in a subtropical estuary: influence of season, incubation time and polymer type on plastic biofouling. Environmental Pollution, 332, 121873. 12, pp.

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Plastics are abundant artificial substrates in aquatic systems that host a wide variety of organisms (the plastisphere), including potential pathogens and invasive species. Plastisphere communities have many complex, but not well-understood ecological interactions. It is pivotal to investigate how these communities are influenced by the natural fluctuations in aquatic ecosystems, especially in transitional environments such as estuaries. Further study is needed in subtropical regions in the Southern Hemisphere, where plastic pollution is ever increasing. Here we applied DNA-metabarcoding (16S, 18S and ITS-2) as well Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to assess the diversity of the plastisphere in the Patos Lagoon estuary (PLE), South Brazil. Through a one-year in situ colonization experiment, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plates were placed in shallow waters, and sampled after 30 and 90 days within each season. Over 50 taxa including bacteria, fungi and other eukaryotes were found through DNA analysis. Overall, the polymer type did not influence the plastisphere community composition. However, seasonality significantly affected community composition for bacteria, fungi and general eukaryotes. Among the microbiota, we found Acinetobacter sp., Bacillus sp., and Wallemia mellicola that are putative pathogens of aquatic organisms, such as algae, shrimp and fish, including commercial species. In addition, we identified organisms within genera that can potentially degrade hydrocarbons (e.g. Pseudomonas and Cladosporium spp). This study is the first to assess the full diversity and variation of the plastisphere on different polymers within a subtropical Southern Hemisphere estuary, significantly expanding knowledge on plastic pollution and the plastisphere in estuarine regions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0269-7491
Additional Keywords: plastics, plastisphere, DNA metabarcoding, Patos Lagoon estuary
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 01 Sep 2023 13:40 +0 (UTC)

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