Plastic leachates impair growth and oxygen production in Prochlorococcus, the ocean's most abundant photosynthetic bacteria

Sasha G. Tetu*, Indrani Sarker, Verena Schrameyer, Russell Pickford, Liam D. H. Elbourne, Lisa R. Moore, Ian T. Paulsen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    132 Citations (Scopus)
    83 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Plastic pollution is a global threat to marine ecosystems. Plastic litter can leach a variety of substances into marine environments; however, virtually nothing is known regarding how this affects photosynthetic bacteria at the base of the marine food web. To address this, we investigated the effect of plastic leachate exposure on marine Prochlorococcus, widely considered the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth and vital contributors to global primary production and carbon cycling. Two strains of Prochlorococcus representing distinct ecotypes were exposed to leachate from common plastic items: high-density polyethylene bags and polyvinyl chloride matting. We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes. The strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate. Consequently, plastic leachate exposure could influence marine Prochlorococcus community composition and potentially the broader composition and productivity of ocean phytoplankton communities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number184
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    Journal Communications Biology
    Volume2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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