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Title:Wastewater treatment alters microbial colonization of microplastics released to the environment
Author(s):Kelly, John
Abstract:Presented by: John Kelly – Professor at Loyola University Chicago, Co-authors: Timothy Hoellein Abstract: Microplastics are contaminants in aquatic habitats throughout the world. One important source of microplastics is consumer products (e.g., personal care products, synthetic textiles) that release microplastic into domestic wastewater (sewage) which is eventually discharged to the environment. The surface of microplastic supports microbial biofilms, so we hypothesized that transport through sewage would enable colonization of microplastic by human pathogens. We collected microplastic from raw sewage and treated effluent from 2 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and in 9 urban rivers in Illinois, and analyzed microbial communities attached to microplastic using high-throughput sequencing. Microplastic microbiomes in raw sewage included a high abundance of bacterial taxa associated with human gastrointestinal infections (e.g. Campylobacteraceae, Enterobacteriaceae). WWTPs retained more than 99% of microplastic, but microplastic that was released in effluent contained a high abundance of taxa linked to gastrointestinal infections (e.g. Enterobacteriaceae). When we analyzed microbiomes of microplastic collected from rivers downstream of WWTPs, we found that this microplastic also supported a high abundance of pathogens (e.g. Campylobacteraceae) and a longitudinal study of one river demonstrated that microplastic can transport these pathogens far downstream. These results highlight the potential for microplastic to serve as a vector for the transport of pathogenic microbes within rivers. Biography: Dr. John Kelly is a professor in the Department of Biology at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Kelly is a microbial ecologist whose research explores the impacts of emerging pollutants on microbial communities in streams.
Issue Date:2021-04-28
Series/Report:2021 Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference (ECEC21)
Genre:Presentation / Lecture / Speech
Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-04-23

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