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March 2024

Synthetic fibers and tire abrasion influence corals

The paw coral Pocillopora verrucosa interacts with the plastic particles studied.
(Photo: Elisabeth Wörner)

Corals feed on plankton, which they filter from seawater. Due to the increasing pollution of the oceans, they also ingest tiny plastic particles. The corals do not always succeed in excreting these microplastics. They store it in their calcareous skeleton, which is not good for some species: they grow slower, develop coral bleaching and necrosis. Dr. Jessica Reichert has been researching the effects of plastic-polluted oceans on corals at Justus Liebig University Giessen for a long time. Now, together with other scientists, she has investigated the impact of the smallest particles of our waste on reef-building corals. Synthetic fibers from clothing and tire abrasion had a particularly large impact. Overall, however, the researchers do not consider the corals studied to be endangered by the current microplastic concentrations. Two studies on coral research have now been published in the journal "Science of The Total Environment".

Read more in the current press release.