Ecological insights into the resilience of marine plastisphere throughout a storm disturbance

Dzung Nguyen, Matan Masasa, Ofer Ovadia, Lior Guttman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among numerous research about marine plastisphere, the community living on the surface of plastic debris, little attention was given to the ecological mechanisms governing prokaryotes compared to eukaryotes, and even less focused on their resilience in a changing climate with more storm prevalence. Our current research recruited an integrated approach involving community succession across temporal dimension, ecological mechanisms that govern the assembly, and resilience to environmental perturbations to highlight the ecology of different kingdoms in the plastisphere. Towards this goal, we examined the succession of the prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities on artificial plastic nets in a sidestream of seawater from the Gulf of Aqaba over 35 days. A robust local storm enabled investigation of the alterations before, during, and after this disturbance, aiming at the community's potential to recover. Data from 16S and 18S rRNA sequencing and microscopic analyses decrypted the plastisphere diversity, community assembly, and stochasticity, followed by further analyses of functional and co-occurrence networks for the prokaryotic group. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic communities underwent exact opposite ecological mechanisms. While determinism driven by a robust environmental selection dictated the prokaryotic community assembly, stochasticity prevailed when this condition was relaxed. Interestingly, resilience against disturbance was observed in prokaryotes but not in eukaryotes. The decrease in compositional, functional diversity and network complexity in the prokaryotic community was reversed, presumably due to the niche specification process and high dispersal. Niche specification following perturbation was evident in some bacteria by selected functions associated with plastic degradation, stress response, and antibiotic resistance. On the contrary, eukaryotes decreased in diversity and were dominated by the commonly found Chlorophyta towards the later successional period. Novel findings on the ecology of marine plastisphere during perturbation encourage the integration of this aspect into prediction research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159775
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Community assembly
  • Microbial succession
  • Plastisphere
  • Resilience
  • Stochasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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