The effect of plastic additives on Shewanella oneidensis growth and function

Liam P Fawcett, Victoria S. Fringer, Jessica R. Sieber, Melissa A. Maurer-Jones

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4 Scopus citations


Plastic waste has the potential for significant consequences on various ecosystems; yet, there are gaps in our understanding of the interaction of bacteria with polymer additives. We studied the impact of representative additive molecules to the viability and cell function of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. Specifically, we explored the toxicity of three bisphenols (bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol S (BPS), and tetrabromo bisphenol A (TBBPA)) and two diesters (dibutyl sebacate (DBS) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)) in order to evaluate the generalizability of toxicity based on similar molecular structures. TBBPA caused significant, dose-dependent decreases in viability for acute (4 h) exposures in aerobic and anaerobic conditions. While the other 4 additives showed no significant toxicity upon 4 h exposures, chronic (2 day) anaerobic exposures revealed a significant impact to growth. BPA and BPS cause a significant decrease in growth rates for all exposure doses (8-131 μM) while DBS and DIBP had decreases in growth for the lowest exposure concentrations, though recovered to growth rates similar to the control at the highest concentrations. This highlights that S. oneidensis may have the ability to use the diesters as a carbon source if present in high enough concentrations. Riboflavin secretion was monitored as a marker of cellular health. Most additives stimulated riboflavin secretion as a survival response. Yet, there was no generalizable trend observed for these molecules, indicating the importance of considering the nuances of molecular structure to toxicity responses and the need for further work to understand the consequences of plastic waste in our environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-966
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science: Processes and Impacts
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 21 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge Ms. Katelyn Koval for her help with some experimental method development. L. P. F. acknowledges the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program through the UMN and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program of the Dept of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMD. Funding for this work was provided by UMD to M. A. M.-J.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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