Project: Microbial hitch-hikers of marine plastics: the survival, persistence and ecology of microbial communities in the “Plastisphere’’
Marine contamination by plastics represents one of the most challenging threats regarding global water pollution worldwide. The term plastisphere is designated as the interface between the plastic surface and the environment. The presence of microplastics in the aquatic environment can enhance the biofilm form ation and, thus the colonisation by microbial pathogens. This research aims to evaluate the colonisation dynamics of viruses, bacteria and toxic algae in microplastics and its implications in human health.
- Characterise the colonisation dynamics of microplastics by pathogenic viruses, bacteria and toxic algae;
- Use of metagenomic analyses to study viral diversity in the plastisphere;
- To analyse and quantify the potential routes of exposure from human pathogens in the plastisphere, associated to shellfish consumption and recreational beach bathing areas; and
- To develop risk assessment guidelines for environmental management regarding human health implications of microbial colonisation in microplastics.