Bacterial community profiling of plastic litter in the Belgian part of the North Sea

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    Bacterial colonization of marine plastic litter (MPL) is
    known for over four decades. Still, only a few studies on the plastic
    colonization process and its influencing factors are reported. In this
    study, seafloor MPL was sampled at different locations across the
    Belgian part of the North Sea to study bacterial community structure
    using 16S metabarcoding. These marine plastic bacterial communities
    were compared with those of sediment and seawater, and resin pellets
    sampled on the beach, to investigate the origin and uniqueness of
    plastic bacterial communities. Plastics display great variation of
    bacterial community composition, while each showed significant
    differences from those of sediment and seawater, indicating that
    plastics represent a distinct environmental niche. Various environmental
    factors correlate with the diversity of MPL bacterial composition across plastics. In addition, intrinsic plastic-related
    factors such as pigment content may contribute to the differences in bacterial colonization. Furthermore, the differential
    abundance of known primary and secondary colonizers across the various plastics may indicate different stages of bacterial
    colonization, and may confound comparisons of free-floating plastics. Our studies provide insights in the factors that shape plastic
    bacterial colonization and shed light on the possible role of plastic as transport vehicle for bacteria through the aquatic
    environment.
    TaalEngels
    TijdschriftEnvironmental Science & Technology
    Volume49
    Pagina's (van-tot)9629-9638
    Aantal pagina's8
    ISSN0013-936X
    DOI's
    StatusGepubliceerd - 6-aug-2015

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