Effects of microplastic and microglass particles on soil microbial community structure in an arable soil (Chernozem)

Wiedner, Katja; Polifka, Steven

Microplastic and microglass particles from different sources enter aquatic and terrestrial environments. The complexity of their environmental impact is difficult to capture, and the consequences for ecosystem components, for example, the soil microorganisms, are virtually unknown. To address this issue, we performed an incubation experiment by adding 1 % of five different types of impurities (inline-formula≤100inline-formulaµm) to an agriculturally used soil (Chernozem) and simulating a worst-case scenario of contamination. The impurities were made of polypropylene (PP), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polystyrene (PS), polyamide 12 (PA12) and microglass. After 80 d of incubation at 20 inline-formulaC, we examined the soil microbial community structure by using phospholipid fatty acids (PLFAs) as markers for bacteria, fungi and protozoa. The results showed that soil microorganisms were not significantly affected by the presence of microplastic and microglass. However, PLFAs tend to increase with LDPE (28 %), PP (19 %) and microglass (11 %) in treated soil in comparison with untreated soil, whereas PLFAs in PA12 (32 %) and PS (11 %) in treated soil decreased. Interestingly, PLFAs revealed significant differences in PA12 (inline-formula−89 %) and PS (inline-formula−43 %) in comparison with LDPE. Furthermore, variability of bacterial PLFAs was much higher after microplastic incubation, while fungi seemed to be unaffected from different impurities after 80 d of incubation. Similar results were shown for protozoa, which were also more or less unaffected by microplastic treatment as indicated by the minor reduction in PLFA contents compared to the control group. In contrast, microglass seems to have an inhibiting effect on protozoa because PLFAs were under the limit of determination. Our study indicated that high amounts of different microplastics may have contrary effects on soil microbiology. Microglass might have a toxic effect for protozoa.

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Wiedner, Katja / Polifka, Steven: Effects of microplastic and microglass particles on soil microbial community structure in an arable soil (Chernozem). 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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