How do picoplankters deal with our plastic bags?

There are a total of 5 plastic gyres floating in our oceans, with kilometres in diameter which are mostly understudied in terms of actual volume, types and lifetimes of the plastic constituents. Studying the smallest of the smallest and the very base of the marine food chain will allow to get an urgent outlook on the impact of plastics in the marine environment. Waste management and up-cycling strategies are on the way, where at this point in time the situation is not managed and could have unprecedented impact upon natural food sources in the near future i.e. contamination through heavy metal leachates as well as introduction of endocrine disrupters.


One of my research projects I am involved in is dealing with the leachates of plastics in the ocean and how these are affecting the photo physiology and general health of picoplankters and in specific picocyanobacteria namely Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus. In my research I have been assessing their oxygen production, photochemical efficiency, as well as growth to depict RNA-seq work when treated with different type of plastic leachates e.g. from plastic bags and bottles.

Preliminary results show that these leachates show toxic effects on the particular strains tested and more extensive studies are on their way and will be published in due course – stay tuned here.