August 2022, Article in peer-reviewed journal
Marine Pollution Bulletin

Annika Vaksmaa, Matthias Egger, Claudia LĂĽke, Paula Dalcin Martins, RiccardoRosselli , Alejandro Abdala Asbuna and Helge Niemann

  • Publication type: Article in peer-reviewed journal
  • Publication journal: Science Direct
  • Publication date: 3 August 2022
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2022.113949
  • Collaborators: Department of Marine Microbiology & Biogeochemistry, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, 't Horntje, the Netherlands, The Ocean Cleanup (NL), Egger Research and Consulting (CH), Radboud University, Department of Microbiology (NL), Departamento de FisiologĂ­a, GenĂ©tica y MicrobiologĂ­a, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Alicante (ES), LABAQUA S.A.U, C/Dracma 16–18, Pol. Ind. (ES), Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University (NL)


The long-term fate of plastics in the ocean and their interactions with marine microorganisms remain poorly understood. In particular, the role of sinking plastic particles as a transport vector for surface microbes towards the deep sea has not been investigated. Here, we present the first data on the composition of microbial communities on floating and suspended plastic particles recovered from the surface to the bathypelagic water column (0-2000 m water depth) of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Microbial community composition of suspended plastic particles differed from that of plastic particles afloat at the sea surface. However, in both compartments, a diversity of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria was identified. These findings indicate that microbial community members initially present on floating plastics are quickly replaced by microorganisms acquired from deeper water layers, thus suggesting a limited efficiency of sinking plastic particles to vertically transport microorganisms in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

  • Microbial communities, North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, Ocean plastic pollution