Selection for antimicrobial resistance in the plastisphere

Stevenson, EM, Buckling, A, Cole, MJ, Lindeque, PK and Murray, AK 2023 Selection for antimicrobial resistance in the plastisphere. Science of The Total Environment, 908. 168234.

Stevenson 2023b.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (2MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Microplastics and antimicrobials are widespread contaminants that threaten global systems and frequently co-exist in the presence of human or animal pathogens. Whilst the impact of each of these contaminants has been studied in isolation, the influence of this co-occurrence in driving antimicrobial resistance (AMR)1 in microplastic-adhered microbial communities, known as ‘the Plastisphere’, is not well understood. This review proposes the mechanisms by which interactions between antimicrobials and microplastics may drive selection for AMR in the Plastisphere. These include: 1) increased rates of horizontal gene transfer in the Plastisphere compared with free-living counterparts and natural substrate controls due to the proximity of cells, co�occurrence of environmental microplastics with AMR selective compounds and the sequestering of extracellular antibiotic resistance genes in the biofilm matrix. 2) An elevated AMR selection pressure in the Plastisphere due to the adsorbing of AMR selective or co-selective compounds to microplastics at concentrations greater than those found in surrounding mediums and potentially those adsorbed to comparator particles. 3) AMR selection pressure may be further elevated in the Plastisphere due to the incorporation of antimicrobial or AMR co-selective chemicals in the plastic matrix during manufacture. Implications for both ecological functioning and environmental risk assessments are discussed, alongside recommendations for further research.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Microplastic Biofilm Plastisphere Antimicrobial resistance Pollution Evolution
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 24 Nov 2023 11:14
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2023 12:59

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item