Impact of microplastic on bacterial communities in soil and their impact on microplastic degradation capacity

, Rohrbach Stephan, Gkoutselis Gerasimos Makis, Weig Alfons, Obst Martin, Rambold Gerhard, Horn Marcus A..

Contribution of the CRC1357 Local Node Meeting High hydrophobicity, molecular weight and crystallinity are the main reasons for the longevity of petrol-based plastics. Plastic surfaces are colonizable by microbes, thus exerting a selection pressure on communities in the so-called ´plastisphere`. Microbes recruited into the ´plastisphere` might have a higher likelihood for being capable of plastic surface modification or even biodegradation. Certain prokaryotes inhere the ability to degrade hydrophobic and crystalline biopolymers and hydrophobic molecules such as lignin and wax. Indeed, few plastic-modifying or degrading strains have been discovered during the last decade, demonstrating that ‘non-biodegradable' plastics can be subject to microbial conversion. Thus, our objectives were to determine the effect of polymer type on the plastisphere microbial community and to isolate microbes able to modify surfaces and/or biodegrade plastics. Habitats impacted by large amounts of these respective polymers like landfill soils might represent environmental enrichments of plastic colonizers and degraders. To address this hypothesis, we incubated various polymers packed in mesh-bags buried in a landfill soil, and determined bacterial community structure by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, biofilm formation by fluorescent staining of the extracellular matrix coupled to confocal laser scanning microscopy, and isolated plastic surface oxidizing Alphaproteobacteria. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and biofilm analysis demonstrated a polymer specific microbial community in tested samples. The acquired knowledge will help us to gain a deeper understanding of how bacterial communities interact with microplastic and associated potential impacts on soil functions. These insights might likewise open possibilities to develop microbial community-based risk management strategies and environmental-friendly systems to recycle plastic waste.

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