Microbial colonization and degradation of polyethylene and biodegradable plastic bags in temperate fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments.

Nauendorf, Alice, Krause, Stefan, Bigalke, Nikolaus K., Gorb, Elena V., Gorb, Stanislav, Haeckel, Matthias , Wahl, Martin and Treude, Tina (2016) Microbial colonization and degradation of polyethylene and biodegradable plastic bags in temperate fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 103 (1-2). pp. 168-178. DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.12.024.

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Abstract

Highlights

• Polypropylene and biodegradable plastic bags were incubated in marine sediments.
• Bacterial colonization was highest on biodegradable plastic bags.
• None of the two bag types showed signs of degradation after 98 days.
• Marine sediments probably represent a long-term sink for both types of litter.

Abstract

To date, the longevity of plastic litter at the sea floor is poorly constrained. The present study compares colonization and biodegradation of plastic bags by aerobic and anaerobic benthic microbes in temperate fine-grained organic-rich marine sediments. Samples of polyethylene and biodegradable plastic carrier bags were incubated in natural oxic and anoxic sediments from Eckernförde Bay (Western Baltic Sea) for 98 days. Analyses included (1) microbial colonization rates on the bags, (2) examination of the surface structure, wettability, and chemistry, and (3) mass loss of the samples during incubation. On average, biodegradable plastic bags were colonized five times higher by aerobic and eight times higher by anaerobic microbes than polyethylene bags. Both types of bags showed no sign of biodegradation during this study. Therefore, marine sediment in temperate coastal zones may represent a long-term sink for plastic litter and also supposedly compostable material.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000374195800030 - PubMed ID: 26790603
Keywords: Biodegradation, Biofilm, Microorganisms, Carrier bag, Compostable, Eckernförde Bay, RV Littorina
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R07
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R09
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-BI Biological Oceanography
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R03
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R04
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.12.024
ISSN: 0025-326X
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2015 11:27
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:15
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/30698

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