Scientists from Newcastle University in the UK have discovered new bacteria that seem to love deep-sea plastics.
The newly discovered bacteria attaches itself to plastics which, researchers theorize, allows the bacteria to spread across the ocean.
The team used a deep-sea vehicle to conduct the experiments in the depths of the Northeast Atlantic. The researchers sank two types of plastics — polyurethane and polystyrene — which they then retrieved and studied for bacterial activity. The scientists theorize that a certain feature of the bacteria allows them to become connected with other deep ocean areas.
The study was led by Max Kelly, a Ph.D. student at Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, who stated:
“The deep sea is the largest ecosystem on earth and likely a final sink for the vast majority of plastic that enters the marine environment, but it is a challenging place to study. Combining deep-sea experts, engineers, and marine microbiologists, our team is helping to elucidate the bacterial community that can to stick to plastic to reveal the final fate of deep-sea plastic.”
You can find the original study here.