Plastic World


Nearly 5 million tonnes of plastic gets dumped into the oceans annually. A remarkable discovery has now been made about the countless confetti-sized bits of plastic circulating in our seas—they house several thriving microbial ecosystems. These microplastic reefs, where communities of bacteria and other microbes create energy from sunlight, reproduce, and prey on one another, have been dubbed the “plastisphere”. The microbial communities on the plastisphere have been found to be distinctly different from the ones in nearby ocean waters. The finding can help marine biologists understand which pathogens dwell on sea plastic and what role, if any, these microbes could play in marine and human health. 


Down To Earth, August 2013