Degradability and biofouling of oxo-biodegradable polyethylene in the planktonic and benthic zones of the Arabian Gulf

Raeid M.M. Abed*, Thirumahal Muthukrishnan, Maryam Al Khaburi, Fahad Al-Senafi, Abdul Munam, Huda Mahmoud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Little is known about the degradability of oxo-biodegradable polyethylene (OXO-PE) and its surface fouling bacterial communities in the marine environment. The degradation of OXO-PE, PE and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was compared at two depths (2 m and 6 m) in the Arabian Gulf. Scanning electron microcopy (SEM) revealed more fissure formation on OXO-PE and PE than on PET, indicating physical degradation. The formation of hydroxyl groups and carbonyl bonds, by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), suggests chemical degradation of OXO-PE. Plastisphere bacterial communities on OXO-PE and PE were different than on PET. Proteobacteria, Bacteriodetes and Planctomycetes were detected on all plastics, however, sequences of Alteromonas and Zoogloea were OXO-PE-specific suggesting a possible involvement of these bacterial genera in OXO-PE degradation. We conclude that OXO-PE shows increased signs of degradation with time owing to the combination of abiotic and biotic processes, and its degradation is higher in the benthic than in the planktonic zone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110639
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Benthic
  • Degradation
  • Microbial fouling
  • MiSeq
  • Planktonic
  • Plastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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