This is a part of projects WEATHER-MIC (JPI-Oceans) and MICROPOLL (BONUS) investigating how microplastic weathering and biodegradation changes its transport, fate and toxicity in the marine environment. Microplastics is a newly recognized type of environmental pollution, and understanding the hazards posed by microplastics in the sea requires understanding the changes they undergo as a result of various environmental weathering processes, such as UV exposure and biofilm growth.
We seek to understand (1) bacterial diversity associated with microplastics collected in the
Baltic Sea as a function of particle vertical position in the water column, season and type of plastic material, (2) effects of biofilm composition on health and fitness of filter-feeders ingesting these microplastics, and (3) adaptation of gut microbiota in the consumers to
microplastics as environmental contaminants.
To address these research questions, we use largely field collections with explorative biodiversity surveys, but also manipulative laboratory experiments. The latter allows for
observation of treatment impact on the functional and phylogenetic composition of microbial communities. Our sequencing targets 16S rRNA gene (MiSeq), and here we
apply for UPPMAX project that would allow sequence analysis, statistical evaluation and data storage.