PLASTPATH - microplastic as an emerging vector for foodborne pathogens in the food chain.

This project will evaluate the potential of microplastic in waste water and fresh water environments to function as transport vectors for food-and waterborne pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

01. aug. 2020 - 01. okt. 2024

Quite a lot of attention has during the last years been paid to the health risk associated with microplastics in the environment and in food. However, the assessments done are so far inconclusive, and the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment affirms that still very limited data of acceptable quality are available on levels of microplastics in foods. In PLASTPATH, we will study if it is reasonable to claim that microplastic in the environment play an important role in the dissemination and protection of bacteria and virus transmitted via food and water. In case, it means that abundance of microplastics will contribute to increased numbers of food- and waterborne diseases. Our hypothesis is that bacteria and virus, by hitch-hiking attached to the microplastics within the food production chains, will travel longer and be more protected compared to the microbes that “travel alone”. We assume that this microplastic protection is relevant until pathogenic microbes are released in the gut or being absorbed into body tissues.


The project will start by characterization of microbe populations on the surface of microplastics isolated from wastewater and sludge from two wastewater treatment plants and fresh water (Lierelva) environments. Further we will study of how such microbe populations develop in controlled laboratory experiments by using standard cultivation procedures and a novel microfluidic platform. The next steps are investigations of the impact of the microbe-microplastic association on microbial survival through an in vitro digestive system and on the pathogenicity of the microbes and the interaction of the plastisphere in the digestive system of Medaka fish in an in vivo model.


Yngvild Wasteson
Project manager
Mette Myrmel
Leader WP 1 and 4
Marina Elisabeth Aspholm
Marina Elisabeth Aspholm
Leader WP3
Ingun Lund Witsø
Ingun Lund Witsø
Ann-Katrin Llarena
Ann-Katrin Llarena
Associate Professor
Letemichael Negash Welekidan
Letemichael Negash Welekidan
Post Doctoral Fellow
Hauk Larssønn Holten
Andreas Halvor Sedin

External participants

Carlos Salas Bringas


Razak Seidu

Professor, NTNU Ålesund

Marie Fauskrud

PhD Candidate, NTNU Ålesund

Nils Kristian Afseth


Kirsti Grundnes Berg

VEAS Vestfjorden Avløpsselskap

Chawan Ahmed

VIVA IKS, vestviken interkommunale vei, vann og avløpsselskap

Albert Bosch Navarro

University of Barcelona

Microplastic circulating in the food chain
Our dedicated project manager, Yngvild Wasteson, volunteered to go go for a swim in the cold river to pick up the biofilm collector,