Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First comprehensive microplastic survey in the Baltic Sea underway

21.08.2015

On August 17, 2015, a research team from the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW) headed out on the research vessel POSEIDON for the first compre-hensive survey of microplastic in the Baltic Sea, which will include up to 50 stations in the sampling campaign. Furthermore, the scientists will investigate, whether microbial communities alter their composition or show any other reaction to environmental pollu-tion, which would be reflected in their genetic fingerprint.

The POSEIDON, a research vessel of the ocean research institute GEOMAR in Kiel, started its expedition in Rostock and will cruise along the coast to circle the Baltic Sea once completely.


The research vessel POSEIDON will cruise the Baltic Sea for one month to conduct the microplastic survey.

GEOMAR / T. Beck


Small partikles, big impact: Microplastic has the potential to influence marine microbial communities as well as the marine foodwebs.

IOW / S. Oberbeckmann

“Whether we will be able to complete the full round trip with all 50 stations, depends on the weather conditions,” says Dr. Sonja Oberbeckmann, who coordinates the expedition as chief scientist. During the cruise, the marine microbiologist from the IOW working group Environmental Microbiology is also responsible for the research focus on microplastic.

„At every station we will sample the surface waters as well as the sediment to get a comprehensive overview, where and how much microplastic is present and which types of plastic materials can be found. This makes our expedition the first microplastic survey in the Baltic Sea of such comprehensiveness,” Sonja Oberbeckmann explains.

It has been recognized since the 1970s, that so-called microplastic – small to microscopic plastic particles with a diameter smaller than 5 millimeters – accumulates in marine envi-ronments. However, only for the last decade more extensive research is being done. Many products of daily use, for instance clothes and cosmetics, contain microplastic particles, which are released into the environment via domestic waste waters.

Furthermore, these micro-sized plastic particles are formed, when larger plastic fragments break down through photo-, thermal and/or biological degradation. Due to their small size, micro-plastic can readily be ingested by a wide range of marine organisms. Not solely the inges-tion of the particles themselves, but also associated toxins might pose a threat to the marine foodweb.

Moreover, the floating particles – despite their small size – provide ma-rine microorganisms with a solid surface, which they can colonize and where they can form dense biofilms. Marine microbial communities may contain pathogenic or toxic mi-crobes, often anthropogenically introduced.

They remain unproblematic as long as they occur in the water column in low densities. Microplastic therefore poses a possible threat, if such harmful organisms accumulate on the particles as biofilm.

“So far we have no actual evidence that microplastic contributes to the accumulation of pathogens or is acting as a transport vector for such microorganisms. However, there is no doubt that the man-made factor ‘microplastic’ as an additional habitat has the po-tential to impact marine microbial communities,” Sonja Oberbeckmann states.

To better understand this impact potential, the research team will conduct experiments aboard ship, in which new sterile microplastic pellets are incubated with water and sediment samples to analyze the biofilms that develop under controlled conditions.

“The compar-ison of the experimental biofilms with those of microplastic particles isolated from the Baltic Sea at the same sampling site will provide us with additional insight into the con-ditions for and the speed of biofilm development. The experiments will also provide us with information about biofilm interaction with the environment,” Oberbeckmann ex-plains.

The microplastic research on the POSEIDON is part of the joint project MikrOMIK (http://www.io-warnemuende.de/mikromik-home.html) under the lead of IOW marine microbi-ologist Dr. Matthias Labrenz, which merges the efforts of nine major research institutions in Germany and is funded by the Leibniz Association.

The second research focus of the POSEIDON expedition also concentrates on the microbial communities of the Baltic Sea. Here, the researchers aim at a comprehensive genetic characterization of those communities, especially in areas that are frequently exposed to pollution by environmental toxins. “In the Baltic Sea, such polluted zones particularly can be found in the inflow areas of big tributaries such as the Oder, the Vistula or the Neman river,” says environmental microbiologist Dr. Christin Bennke, who also participates in the expedition and coordinates this part of the research.

„During the expedition, we will systematically sample all big river plumes to see, whether the environmental stress has an impact on the composition of the microbial communities or even leads to genetic adaptations or other responses of the organisms, which are detectable in their overall genetic fingerprint,” the IOW scientist outlines her approach.

The research is part of the European research cooperation Blueprint (http://blueprint-project.org), which focuses on microbial communities as principal drivers of marine biogeochemistry to develop new concepts of deducing the environmental status of the Baltic Sea based on biodiversity and genetic profiles of microbes in seawater samples.

*Scientific Contact:
Dr. Sonja Oberbeckmann, IOW Working Group Environmental Microbiology
sonja.oberbeckmann@io-warnemuende.de

*Press and Public Relations at IOW:
Dr. Kristin Beck | Tel.: 0381 – 5197 135 | kristin.beck@io-warnemuende.de
Dr. Barbara Hentzsch | Tel.: 0381 – 5197 102 | barbara.hentzsch@io-warnemuende.de

The IOW is a member of the Leibniz Association with currently 89 research institutes and scientific infrastructure facilities. The focus of the Leibniz Institutes ranges from natural, engineering and environmental sciences to economic, social and space sciences as well as to the humanities. The institutes are jointly financed at the state and national levels. The Leibniz Institutes employ a total of 18.100 people, of whom 9.200 are scientists. The total budget of the institutes is 1.64 billion Euros. (http://www.leibniz-association.eu)

Dr. Kristin Beck | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice
24.04.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Climate change in a warmer-than-modern world: New findings of Kiel Researchers
24.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>