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NEW DELHI : As the world struggles to combat pollution in various aspects-- soil, air, water, noise-- a recent study published in the journal, 'American Society for Microbiology' have found that plastic pollution may after all serve as the source for antibiotics in ocean. 

At a time when governments of the world are trying to share the plastic waste burden to reduce plastic pollution, this study emphasises on the biomass capability of plastic. 

Scientists and experts who conducted the study have pointed out that at least 5-13 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year which finds its way into the ocean. 

While general consensus and empirical understanding have only pointed out towards the death of oceanic flora and fauna, as well as large animals due to plastic pollution, this study has stated otherwise. 

The study says, the large floating debris contribute microplastics into the ocean onto which microbes can form entire ecosystems. The study further says, plastic debris is rich in biomass, and therefore could be a good candidate for antibiotic production which tends to occur in highly competitive natural environments.

To explore the potential of the plastisphere to be a source of novel antibiotics, the researchers modified the Tiny Earth citizen science approach (developed by Dr Jo Handelsman) to marine conditions.

The researchers incubated high and low-density polyethene plastic (the type commonly seen in grocery bags) in the water near Scripps Pier in La Jolla, Calif. for 90 days.

The researchers isolated 5 antibiotic-producing bacteria from ocean plastic, including strains of Bacillus, Phaeobacter and Vibrio. They tested the bacterial isolates against a variety of Gram-positive and negative targets, finding the isolates to be effective against commonly used bacteria as well as 2 antibiotic-resistant strains.

"Considering the current antibiotic crisis and the rise of superbugs, it is essential to look for alternative sources of novel antibiotics," said study lead author Andrea Price of National University.

"We hope to expand this project and further characterize the microbes and the antibiotics they produce," Andrea concluded. 

Few weeks ago, scientists for the first time found microplastics in freshly fallen snow in Antarctic. The scientists published their findings in The Cryosphere journal, where they have warned that the microplastics in the freshly fallen snow of Antarctic would only accelerate the process of melting of ice.

A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ad earlier stated that the global usage of plastic is set to increase by three fold by the year 2060.

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