Sponges filter large volumes of seawater from where they remove and transform microparticles and dissolved chemical compounds in a variety of ways. By transforming Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC), sponges and their associated microbes convert it into ‘edible’ energy for other organisms.
Understanding and quantifying this “fertilizer” function of sponges is one of the relevant research topic on what Spo-Plastic plans to contribute by addressing two main goals.
First, to determine the capacity of sponges to process the DOC leached from microplastics and to identify potential changes in the microbial components.
Second, to design an in situ method to quantify the capacity of the sponges to remove microplastics from the water column. Preserving sponge communities and the services they provide offers a natural solution in contrast to the outstanding cost of the biotechnological strategies to remove or mitigate plastic pollution.