Learn more about marine plastic pollution, fungi, and get involved in a fun community project!
In 2010, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean (NOAA 2021) and today's estimates range from 10-20 million metric tons annually (Urbanek et al. 2018).
Plastics don't decompose. Instead, they break down into smaller pieces, termed "microplastics," that continue to have detrimental effects on marine ecosystems (Hammer et al. 2012; Urbanek et al. 2018; NOAA 2021).
Plastics are harmful to marine organisms for many reasons. They can cause entanglements, internal damage from ingestion or lead to starvation due to a false sense of fullness, and they can be toxic from additives or adsorption of chemicals from the environment that bioaccumulate in marine animals (Hammer et al. 2012; Urbanek et al. 2018; Mohanan et al. 2020).
I have chosen 8 of the best polyurethane (PU) degrading fungi and placed two different ones on a single PU Petri dish. Pictures from all interaction combinations are pictured in the following sections of the website.
I am asking you to place "bets" on what is going to happen on each plate. Your "bets" will be in the form of pieces of plastic pollution that you will clean up from the community you live in.
There are 4 possible outcomes that you can "bet" on:
4. Due to competition, their rate of clearance/growth will be slowed
If you predict the wrong outcome on any given plate, you will be asked to cleanup the amount of plastic that you "bet" and send in pictures.
At the end of the semester, I will also be organizing a beach cleanup with a community partner (Surfrider Foundation and/or 808Cleanups) for anyone participating on O'ahu.
If you "bet" right, there may be some cool prizes to win.
Let's get excited about cool marine microbes and help keep our planet clean and free of pollution!
Hello everyone and thank you for your participation in my project! My name is Ronja Steinbach and I am an undergraduate student attending the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico with roots in Germany.
Since doing an internship in the Rudgers Lab at the University of New Mexico during my senior year of high school, I became interested in studying mycology. I decided to combine this newfound interest with my long-standing ambition of becoming a marine biologist. Fortunately, I found the perfect place in the Amend Lab. I have been working with Dr. Anthony Amend since my freshman year and have gotten to dive deeper into the world of marine fungi.
I would like to thank the following people and programs for their support of this project:
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
Ocean Conservation Award
José E. Serrano Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (NOAA)
Dr. Anthony Amend