Microplastics (MP) provide a unique and extensive surface for microbial colonization in aquatic ecosystems. The formation of microorganism-microplastic complexes, such as biofilms, maximizes the degradation of organic matter and horizontal gene transfer. In this context, MP affect the structure and function of microbial communities, which in turn render the physical and chemical fate of MP. This new paradigm generates challenges for microbiology, ecology, and ecotoxicology.
Interest about interactions between microplastics and organisms is on the rise. Accessing organisms’ responses to these chemically “inert” compounds plays an important role in determining their potential toxicity. Microplastics from the environment tend to accumulate and move through living organisms, inducing a variety of biological effects, such as disturbances in energy metabolism, oxidative balance, antioxidative capacity, DNA, immunological, neurological and histological damage.
Elsevier, TrAC - Trends in Analytical Chemistry, Volume 111, February 2019
The quantification of micro- and nanoplastics in environmental matrices is an analytical challenge and pushes to the use of unrealistic high exposure concentrations in laboratory studies which can lead to manifestations of ecotoxicological effects and risks estimation that are transient under natural conditions.
Plastics entering the environment will persist and continue to degrade and fragment to smaller particles under the action of various environmental factors. These microplastics (MP) and nanoplastics (NP) are likely to pose a higher environmental impact, as well as they are more prone to adsorb organic contaminants and pathogens from the surrounding media, due to their higher surface area to volume ratio. Little known on their characteristics, fragmentation, distribution and impact on freshwater ecosystems.