Microplastic pollution increases gene exchange in aquatic ecosystems

Author: Arias-Andres, Maria; Klumper, Uli; Rojas-Jimenez, Keilor; Grossart, Hans-Peter

Description: Pollution by microplastics in aquatic ecosystems is accumulating at an unprecedented scale, emerging as a new surface for biofilm formation and gene exchange. In this study, we determined the permissiveness of aquatic bacteria towards a model antibiotic resistance plasmid, comparing communities that form biofilms on microplastics vs. those that are free-living. We used an exogenous and red-fluorescent E. coli donor strain to introduce the green-fluorescent broad-host-range plasmid pKJK5 which encodes for trimethoprim resistance. We demonstrate an increased frequency of plasmid transfer in bacteria associated with microplastics compared to bacteria that are free-living or in natural aggregates. Moreover, comparison of communities grown on polycarbonate filters showed that increased gene exchange occurs in a broad range of phylogenetically-diverse bacteria. Our results indicate horizontal gene transfer in this habitat could distinctly affect the ecology of aquatic microbial communities on a global scale. The spread of antibiotic resistance through microplastics could also have profound consequences for the evolution of aquatic bacteria and poses a neglected hazard for human health.

Subject headings: Bacteria; Biofilms; Drug Resistance, Microbial; Ecosystem; Environmental Monitoring; Environmental Pollution; Escherichia coli; Plasmids; Plastics; Water Pollutants, Chemical; Antibiotic resistance; Aquatic ecosystems; Biofilm; Horizontal gene transfer; Microplastics; E coli

Publication year: 2018

Journal or book title: Environmental Pollution

Volume: 237

Pages: 253-261

Find the full text: https://www.bio.fsu.edu/~miller/HOMEPAGE/documents/Arias_etal_2018.pdf

Find more like this one (cited by): https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=1679637925916795451&as_sdt=1000005&sciodt=0,16&hl=en

Serial number: 3438

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