An unsettling discovery: the plastic affects photosynthetic bacteria
The researchers assessed the harm that plastic causes is important photosynthetic organisms of the World ocean — protococcal algae.
May 15, 2019 at 08:33
The appearance of oxygen on Earth two billion years ago was the result of the activities of blue-green algae, and they are still responsible for 60% of all photosynthesis in the oceans. The most active contribution, 10% of the total oxygen in the world, making marine cyanobacteria prochlorococcus (lat. Prochlorococcus). Their size does not exceed 0.7 micrometer in diameter, and they are the most numerous come from the Earth. One milliliter of surface seawater may contain 100,000 or more of prochlorococcus, and a global population of about three octillion individuals.
Australian scientists decided to test whether plastic water pollution in the activities of these important organisms. The experiments were conducted in the laboratory: two strains of prochlorococcus detected at different depths of the ocean, were exposed to the chemicals leached from two conventional plastic products: black polyethylene and PVC food. The findings were disappointing.
“We found that chemicals leached salt water from the plastic waste, inhibit the growth and photosynthesis of prochlorococcus, the most numerous photosynthetic bacteria of the ocean,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Sasha Theta (Sasha Tetu).
The future plans of scientists to study the effects of plastic on microalgae already in the ocean environment. In addition to reducing the volume of produced oxygen, there is another problem. The fact that the plastic waste has a direct impact on fish and other underwater creatures, have long been known: they are entangled in and swallow indigestible objects. However, the extent of leaching of chemical additives in the water have not been thoroughly investigated. Meanwhile, the harm caused by even the very lowest link of the food chain, affecting each level. Learn how the microplastics got to the top predators.