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New Research Output: Microbial colonization and associated health risks

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

PlasticsFatE has just published a summary of work performed by Jaffer Yousuf Dar, a Doctoral Student from the Aquatic Microbial Ecology group at Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, IGB, led by Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Grossart, on Zenodo. It is available to download here.



Titled 'Microbial colonization and associated health risks', the summary describes how the surface of microplastics (MPs) offers a high microbial cell density and increased nutrient

availability, creating "hot-spots" for microbial colonization in the aquatic ecosystems. This

colonization can include toxic, pathogenic, or invasive species. Since MPs can be transferred over long distances in aquatic ecosystems horizontally and within water columns (vertically), they may act as efficient vectors for selecting and spreading pathogenic and other harmful microbes.


One concerning aspect is that MPs can facilitate the horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of genetic material among microorganisms. HGT is amechanism bywhich genetic information,

such as antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs), can be transferred between different species of

bacteria. This process plays a significant role in the spread of antibiotic resistance, which poses a serious threat to human and environmental health.


In this context, the team is studying the microbial colonization and potential transfer of ARGs on the surface of different plastic types, including tyre wear particles (TWP). TWP, in particular, is noteworthy due to its composition, which includes heavy metals. These heavy metals present in TWP could contribute to the co-selection and dissemination of ARGs, further exacerbating the issue of antibiotic resistance.


Full summary:


Further information:

Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Grossart: hgrossart@igb-berlin.de

Jaffer Yousuf Dar: Email Yousuf.Dar@igb-berlin.de

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