Published June 30, 2014 in the Herald Sun by
COLONIES of microbes seem to be
"eating" plastic pollution floating on the surface of the ocean,
according to researchers from the University of Western Australia.
THE research by PhD candidate Julia Reisser and colleagues was the
first to document biological communities living on sand-sized pieces of
plastic in Australian waters. It has been published in the international
science journal PLOS One.
Using a scanning electron microscope,
researchers examined the samples - tiny broken down discarded items such
as food packaging and fishing gear - and could see microbes "eating"
"The good news is that some of the plastic
inhabitants may decrease plastic pollution at the sea surface, where
major environmental impacts occur," the university said in a statement.
Study co-author Jeremy Shaw said large numbers of silica-forming algae
weighed down their plastic host, potentially causing tiny pieces to sink
to the bottom of the ocean.
"Plastic biodegredation seems to happen at sea," Ms Reisser said.
"I am excited about this because the `plastic eating' microbes could
provide better solutions for waste disposal practices on land."
Originally published as Marine microbes 'eat' plastic pollution