Microbial Communities on Microplastics from Hong Kong Marine Waters

Project: Research

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Microplastics, defined as plastic particles up to 5 mm in size, constitute one of the most ubiquitous pollutants in marine environments, including those of Hong Kong. While the mechanical and toxicological risks that microplastics pose to marine wildlife have been extensively studied, little is known about their interactions with marine microorganisms. Pathogenic marine microbes tend to specialize in opportunistic and surface-associated lifestyles to exploit their hosts. There is evidence that heterotrophic bacteria colonizing plastic surfaces survive substantially longer than those in the surrounding seawater. This feature, along with the exceptional persistence and transportability of plastic debris in the marine environment, would make microplastics a novel vector for transporting pathogenic microbes. In this study, we propose to use a metagenomics sequencing approach to assess the microbiological hazards of microplastics as a vector for transporting waterborne pathogens in coastal environments. 


Project number7005254
Effective start/end date1/09/19 → …