Microplastic Shape, Polymer Type, and Concentration Affect Soil Properties and Plant Biomass

Yudi M. Lozano, Timon Lehnert, Lydia T. Linck, Anika Lehmann, Matthias C. Rillig, Universitätsbibliothek Der FU Berlin
Microplastics may enter the soil in a wide range of shapes and polymers. However, little is known about the effects that microplastics of different shapes, polymers, and concentration may have on soil properties and plant performance. To address this, we selected 12 microplastics representing different shapes (fibers, films, foams, and fragments) and polymers, and mixed them each with soil at a concentration of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, and 0.4%. A phytometer (Daucus carota) grew in each pot during 4
more » ... . Shoot, root mass, soil aggregation, and microbial activity were measured. All shapes increased plant biomass. Shoot mass increased by ∼27% with fibers, ∼60% with films, ∼45% with foams, and by ∼54% with fragments, as fibers hold water in the soil for longer, films decrease soil bulk density, and foams and fragments can increase soil aeration and macroporosity, which overall promote plant performance. By contrast, all shapes decreased soil aggregation by ∼25% as microplastics may introduce fracture points into aggregates and due to potential negative effects on soil biota. The latter may also explain the decrease in microbial activity with, for example, polyethylene films. Our findings show that shape, polymer type, and concentration are key properties when studying microplastic effects on terrestrial systems.
doi:10.17169/refubium-29405 fatcat:ebfpxumiizbnngf7jqw75oxx4a