Microplastic pollution and enrichment of distinct microbiota in sediment of mangrove in Zhujiang River estuary, China

Muting Yan, Xiaofeng Chen, Wei Chu, Weixin Li, Minqian Li, Zeming Cai, Han Gong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The microbial communities colonized on microplastics (MPs) have attracted widespread attention. However, few studies focused on the MPs impacts on mangrove ecosystems, particularly on bacterial communities. We investigated the MPs pollution in mangrove of Zhujiang (Pearl) River estuary (ZRE). To study the potential risk posed by MPs to the mangrove ecosystems, the differences in bacterial communities, functions, and complexity between MPs and sediment samples were reported for the first time. Microplastics (2 991±1 586 items/kg dry weight (dw)) in sediment were mainly fibers and polyethylene, mostly transparent, and in size less than 0.5 mm. Bacterial communities and functions significantly differed from MPs in mangrove sediment. Compared with sediment, MPs significantly enriched members of Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria, as well as the bacteria associated with plastic-degrading and human diseases on their surface, suggesting that microbial communities on MPs may promote MPs degradation and the spread of diseases, posing potential risk to mangrove ecosystems and human health. Although bacteria on MPs exhibited a lower diversity, the co-occurrence network analysis indicated that network of bacteria colonized on MPs was bigger and more complex than those of mangrove sediment, illustrating that MPs can act as a distinct habitat in this special ecosystem. This study provides a new perspective for increasing our understanding of microplastic pollution in mangrove ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Oceanology and Limnology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • bacterial function
  • co-occurrence network
  • mangrove sediment
  • microbial community
  • microplastic (MP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Water Science and Technology


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