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Three Ocean Substrates Create a Triple Threat to Marine Life and Human Health
Supported by a National Science Foundation grant, researchers from Florida Atlantic and collaborators from around the world uncovered how Sargassum, plastic debris and Vibrio bacteria combine in coastal waters to negatively impact human and marine-life health. Vibrio bacteria are seen in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmest. Eating raw or undercooked shellfish is the most common way that humans are exposed to Vibrio bacteria, but infection can also occur when open wounds are exposed to salt water containing Vibrio bacteria. What FAU’s researchers recently discovered is that Vibrio attach to, or “stick” to plastic debris floating in the ocean. This represents a potentially new ocean bacteria species. Moreover, this new vibrio-plastic species may contain pathogens that cause leaky gut syndrome. For instance, infected fish released higher levels of waste that could stimulate Sargassum growth. In addition to water temperature and pollution, Sargassum overgrowth can also result from excessive marine life waste.
A cycle of vibrio-plastic bacteria formation and marine life infection can create yet another condition for sargassum overgrowth, leading to what FAU’s researchers have described as a triple threat to marine and human health. Additionally, data showed that beached Sargassum can contain high amounts of Vibrio bacteria, therefore, research is needed to assess the health risks of repurposing sargassum as soil, fertilizer, cosmetics, and other products.Click Here