Biofilm on microplastics in aqueous environment: Physicochemical properties and environmental implications

Abstract The excellent properties of plastics make them widely used all over the world. However, when plastics enter the environmental medium, microplastics will inevitably be produced due to physical, chemical and biological factors. Studies have shown that microplastics have been detected in terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric environments. In addition, the presence of microplastics will provide a new artificial adhesion substrate for biofilms. It has been proved that the formation of biofilms could significantly change some properties of microplastics. Some studies have found that microplastics attached with biofilms have higher environmental risks and eco-toxicity. Therefore, considering the widespread existence of microplastics and the ecological risks of microplastic biofilms, the physical and chemical properties of biofilms on microplastics and their impact on microplastics in aqueous environment are worth reviewing. In this paper, we comprehensively reviewed representative studies in this area. Firstly, this study reviews that the existence of biofilms could change the transport and deposition of microplastics. Subsequently, the presence of biofilms would enhance the ability of microplastics to accumulate pollutant, such as persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and antibiotics. Moreover, the effect of biofilms on microplastics enrichment of harmful microorganisms is summarized. Finally, some future research needs and strategies are proposed to better understand the problem of biofilms on microplastics.
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