Plastic wastes accumulation in marine environments is becoming a crucial issue; while the toxicity to biota is quite well explored, a gap of knowledge still exists on the role that plastics play in shaping bacterial community structures in marine conditions and their possible transmission to humans. The present study intended first to profile bacterial community structure in floating plastic particles (FP) biofilms and seawater from four Tunisian coastal areas using high-throughput sequencing (HTS) of 16S rDNA. Subsequently, mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) as filter feeding organisms were exposed to the FP to broaden the knowledge on the potential role played by environmental plastic particles in shaping bacterial community structures and on their possibility to act as vehicles of bacteria through the food web. The mussels’ microbiota was microbiologically analyzed through HTS, and the Histidine Rich Glycoprotein (HRG) gene expression level was investigated as the main immune response. Our results clearly showed a great variation in the composition of bacterial communities of FP and seawater from different geographical areas. Moreover, the gills of mussels exposed to sterilized seawater and native FP from each site exhibited a wider bacterial biodiversity. The gene expression level of HRG was found to be significantly higher in animals exposed to native FP when compared to sterilized FP. Our results should be carefully considered in view of the Trojan horse effects of FP toward bacteria and its potential toxicity.
- Bacterial community structure
- Floating plastics