Each year, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography recognizes a young scientist for an outstanding peer-reviewed, English-language paper in the aquatic sciences with the Raymond L. Lindeman Award. The 2020 Lindeman Award will be given to Cristina Romera-Castillo in recognition of the paper, “Dissolved organic carbon leaching from plastics stimulates microbial activity in the ocean” published in Nature Communications. The award was presented to Dr. Romera-Castillo, currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Marine Science Institute-CSIC in Spain, in February at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California.
In this seminal paper, Romera-Castillo and coauthors demonstrate that the presence of plastics has the potential to alter the basic biogeochemical functioning of the oceans, through the release of dissolved organic matter and its subsequent influence on the metabolism of marine microbial communities that lie at the base of the marine food web. Romera-Castillo further show that, due to impacts of light exposure, the history of a piece of plastic or its position in the water column may alter its ability to be utilized by microbes. Together, these findings shed light on how plastics in the ocean are interacting with the most abundant organisms in the marine environment.
“Plastic pollution is a huge challenge for oceans - we don’t know yet how exactly the estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic currently in the marine environment is interacting with the aquatic environment.. The paper by Romera-Castillo et al. takes us a step closer to understanding the ocean plastics issue by characterizing its impacts on microbial food webs. We are delighted to award this year’s Lindeman Award to Dr. Cristina Romera-Castillo for her pivotal role in this work.” said ASLO President Michael Pace.
Romera-Castillo, C., Pinto, M., Langer, T.M. et al. Dissolved organic carbon leaching from plastics stimulates microbial activity in the ocean. Nature Communications 9, 1430 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03798-5