Marine microbes in the Plastic Age

  • Osborn A
  • Stojkovic S
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We are living in the ‘Plastic Age’, but unfortunately our nonhuman relatives with whom we share our planet are not adapted to cope with the thousands of tons of plastic waste entering rivers, seas and oceans each year. Plastic poses both physical and chemical threats to aquatic life. It leads to damage or death of animals following plastic entanglement or ingestion and/or can lead to bioaccumulation of co-pollutants absorbed on plastic surfaces. Once ingested, copollutants can be absorbed into tissues and accumulated in the food chain. As nature’s biodegraders and recyclers, microorganisms may play a role in mitigating the impact of our disposable plastic lifestyle, or alternatively, plastic may serve as a vector for transport of pathogenic microorganisms into marine fauna. Here,wereview current understanding of the microbiology of marine plastics and highlight future challenges for this emerging research discipline.




Osborn, A. M., & Stojkovic, S. (2014). Marine microbes in the Plastic Age. Microbiology Australia, 35(4), 207.

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