Microbial Communities

Non-target effects of deliberately released organisms into a new environment are of great concern due to their potential impact on the biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems. Whereas these studies often focus on invasive species of macro-organisms, the use of microbial inoculants is often expected to have specific effects on particular functions but negligible overall effects on resident microbial communities. Here, we posit that such introductions often impact native microbial communities, which might influence ecosystem processes.
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.