Horizontal Gene Transfer

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.
The past decade has witnessed a burst of study regarding antibiotic resistance in the environment, mainly in areas under anthropogenic influence. Therefore, impacts of the contaminant resistome, that is, those related to human activities, are now recognized. However, a key issue refers to the risk of transmission of resistance to humans, for which a quantitative model is urgently needed. This opinion paper makes an overview of some risk-determinant variables and raises questions regarding research needs.