Microplastics clump with natural particles


Plastic and plankton poo give researchers a sinking feeling.


Biofilm formed by bacteria and microalgae on a plastic surface in water from the Kiel Fjord, Germany, visualised with confocal laser scanning microscopy.

Biofilm formed by bacteria and microalgae on a plastic surface in water from the Kiel Fjord, Germany, visualised with confocal laser scanning microscopy.

Jan Michels/Future Ocean

Microplastics that find their way into the ocean form clumps with biological particles such as plankton and its faeces. The clumps then sink, carrying the plastics down into deep-sea sediments.

Laboratory simulations performed by a team led by Jan Michels from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, in Germany, show that microplastics coated with a biofilm, such as bacteria and microalgae, create an even stickier surface that allows clumps to form at a rapid rate, sending even more to the depths.

  1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.1203
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