Interactions Between Plastic, Microbial Biofilms and Gammarus pulex: An Initial Investigation

Katey L Valentine*, Alistair B A Boxall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is increasing evidence that microbial biofilms which form on the surface of marine plastics can increase plastics palatability, making it more attractive to organisms. The same information, however, does not exist for freshwater systems. This study observed the response of the freshwater amphipod Gammarus pulex when exposed to 3 cm-diameter discs of biofilm-covered plastic, both alone and when presented alongside its natural food. G. pulex did not fragment or consume the plastic materials, and the presence of colonised plastic in the immediate environment did not alter the amount of time organisms spent interacting with their natural food. This study provides baseline information for virgin and microbially colonised low-density polyethylene and polylactic acid film. Further studies, with other types of plastic possessing different physical properties and with different microbial biofilm compositions are now required to build further understanding of interactions between plastic, microbial biofilms, and freshwater shredding invertebrates.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalBulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Early online date6 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jan 2022

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© 2022. The Author(s).

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