Ocean, Plastic, Prochlorococcus
Image Source: WWF-UK

According to the study, the chemicals that are used in plastics which are further leaked out in the oceans of seas are possibly capable of stopping the bacteria called Prochlorococcus to produce oxygen which may cause a lot of harm for the life under water. The study lead author and Macquarie University researcher, Dr. Sasha Tetu, in a statement, “We found that exposure to chemicals leaching from plastic pollution interfered with the growth, photosynthesis and oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria.”

Ocean, Plastic, Prochlorococcus
Image Source: aryfahmed / Adobe Stock

The research was conducted to see the effects of the chemicals in the water as the scientist left plastic bags and PVC mattings in the seawater and observed it for 24 hours and the results were shocking as one of the bacterias stopped generating oxygen. The study’s abstract reads, “We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes, the strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate.”

Dr. Lisa Moore, a co-author on the paper, noted that these microorganisms “are critical to the marine food web,” said, “These tiny microorganisms are critical to the marine food web, contribute to carbon cycling and are thought to be responsible for up to 10 percent of the total global oxygen production, “One in every ten breaths of oxygen you breathe in is thanks to these little guys, yet almost nothing is known about how marine bacteria, such as Prochlorococcus respond to human pollutants.”

The data based on 2015 stated that between 4.8 trillion and 12.7 trillion pieces of plastic are driven away in the ocean. Tetu stated, “Our data shows that plastic pollution may have widespread ecosystem impacts beyond the known effects on micro-organisms, such as seabirds and turtles, If we truly want to understand the full impact of plastic pollution in the marine environment and find ways to mitigate it, we need to consider its impact on key microbial groups, including photosynthetic microbes.”

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