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Marine Pollution Bulletin
Volume 166, 2021, 112226

A functional gene-array analysis of microbial communities settling on microplastics in a peat-draining environment

Ishraq Rahmana,d, Aazani Mujahidb, Enzo A. Palomboc, Moritz Müllera

Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science, Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus, 93350 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.


Concerns about microplastic (MP) pollution arise from the rafting potential of these durable particles which potentially propagate harmful chemicals and bacteria across wide spatial gradients. While many studies have been conducted in the marine environment, knowledge of MPs in coastal and freshwater systems is limited. For this study, we exposed two MPs (polyethylene terephthalate and polylactic acid) to the undisturbed peat-draining Maludam River in Malaysia, for 6 months. The microbial communities on these MPs and the surrounding water were sequenced by MiSeq, while the genetic responses of these communities were assessed by GeoChip 5.0S. Microbial communities were dominated by the phyla ProteobacteriaAcidobacteria and Actinobacteria. Metabolic processes involved with carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, metal homeostasis, organic remediation and virulence had significantly different gene expression among the communities on MPs and in the surrounding water. Our study is the first to look at changes in gene expression of whole plastisphere communities.

Keywords: Microplastic, GeoChip 5.0S, PET, PLA, Microbial community, Gene expression.

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