Fatal Attraction: The Effects of Plastic and Biodegradable Products on their Surrounding Environments
Logan Tamadon, a sophomore from Isaac Bear Early College, started looking into how different types of plastics and biodegradable materials deteriorate in both marine and freshwater environments. In September 2021, each of the test materials were placed into baskets and tied to docks in the intercoastal waterway and Bradley Creek. He allowed them to remain in the water, degrading over time, and checked them periodically throughout the year. Logan presented his results at the local Science Fair where he took 3rd place, the regional Science Fair where he took 1st place, and the state Science Fair where he took 3rd place!
During the study, he noticed macrofauna gathering on and around his test materials. Through this observation he wondered about the microorganisms that were potentially thriving here. This year, Logan’s focus has been on studying the plastisphere, a miniature, diverse ecosystem that forms around a plastic product. With the help of Dr. Bradley Tolar, a UNCW microbiology professor, and Allie Sells, a microbiology work-study student, Logan has been able to examine wet-mounted slides of the water surrounding the test samples and grow bacteria cultures from swabs of his degraded materials. He will use these observations to determine what types of microorganisms form the plastisphere he has created.
In the future, Logan hopes to identify specific bacteria that will contribute to the breakdown of these plastics. If you are interested in supporting Logan and his work through funding laboratory equipment, click the button below!