Gabriel Erni Cassola

University of Warwick


Plastic oceans, can microbes clean our mess?


Joseph Christie-Oleza and Matthew Gibson

PhD Summary

Plastic has become one of the most pervasive marine pollutants worldwide. It directly impacts marine macrofauna, such as sea turtles, which confound plastic debris with food and may starve as consequence. Microplastics adsorb organic contaminants, which, upon consumption by zooplankton, accumulate in the food chain. In this project, I aim to study the microbial community found on marine plastic debris to further our understanding of marine microbes and their potential to biodegrade plastic.

What inspires you?

Somehow I’ve always loved water and its creatures. A passion that was probably kept alive by the (almost) weakly visits to the local aquarium to which I urged my parents.

Previous Activity

I did an MSc in Ecology (Tropical Marine Ecology) at the University of Zurich. Graduation was followed by an internship at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG) where I participated in a study aimed at assessing Swiss fish biodiversity. Before starting my PhD, I also worked as field assistant for the University of Bern studying cichlid fish at Lake Tanganyika.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

I enjoy doing science and discovering new things. A doctoral research program gave me the opportunity and freedom to pursue what most interests me.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

CENTA provided me with a unique opportunity to keep studying the aquatic environment and the factors threatening it.

What are your future plans

Embarking on these studies will hopefully provide me with the experience and knowledge to contribute to healthier future oceans.