The continuous effort to preserve water bodies has led to discovery of a plastic loving bacteria in a study undertaken by scientists at Newcastle University. The bacteria attaches to plastic in the deep sea that may allow them to move across the ocean.
For the first time, it is demonstrated that deep-sea bacteria with affinity for plastic make up only 1% of total bacterial community. The findings of the study reported in Environmental Pollution explains that the bacteria attaches only to plastic and not non-plastic control of stone.
The bacteria may be able to travel across the ocean by sticking to plastic, and result into improved microbial connectivity across seemingly cut-off environments.
Importantly, to discover the mysteries of deep-sea, the team used a deep-sea lander in the North East Atlantic to purposely sink two types of plastics, polystyrene and polyurethane at 1800 m in the deep sea, and then recover material to discover a group of plastic loving bacteria. The method helps to address the issue how plastics, and subsequently of plastisphere are sampled in the environment to provide consistent results.
The scientists undertook observation of a combination of extreme living and diverse bacteria, which is also present in the deep-sea hydrothermal vent systems and Spirosoma, which has been extracted from the Arctic permafrost. Some other bacteria that were observed included Marine Methylotrophic Group 3 and Aliivibrio that highlights a growing concern for the presence of plastic in the ocean.
A recent work of the team also led to observation of a strain originally extracted from RTS Titanic called Halomonas titanicae. While the rust-feeding microbe was initially found on the shipwreck, it also loves to stick to plastic and can carry out low crystallinity plastic degradation.