Wow. Simply wow.
Researchers at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia have found that some of the plastic lechates (chemicals that are used in the manufacture of plastics that can escape from the material) will slow the growth and photosynthetic rates of (arguably) the most important plant (photosynthetic bacteria) on the planet.
Knowing how our human behavior effects the environment is critical if humans are to remain the dominant species on the planet.
Plastic pollution is a global threat to marine ecosystems. Plastic litter can leach a variety of substances into marine environments; however, virtually nothing is known regarding how this affects photosynthetic bacteria at the base of the marine food web. To address this, we investigated the effect of plastic leachate exposure on marine Prochlorococcus, widely considered the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth and vital contributors to global primary production and carbon cycling. Two strains of Prochlorococcus representing distinct ecotypes were exposed to leachate from common plastic items: high-density polyethylene bags and polyvinyl chloride matting. We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes. The strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate. Consequently, plastic leachate exposure could influence marine Prochlorococcuscommunity composition and potentially the broader composition and productivity of ocean phytoplankton communities.