Microplastics have shape- and polymer-dependent effects on soil aggregation and organic matter loss – an experimental and meta-analytical approach

  • Lehmann A
  • Leifheit E
  • Gerdawischke M
  • et al.
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Abstract

Microplastics are a diverse and ubiquitous contaminant, a global change driver with potential to alter ecosystem properties and processes. Microplastic-induced effects in soils are manifold as microplastics differ in a variety of properties among which the shape is of special interest. Our knowledge is limited regarding the impact of various microplastic shapes on soil processes. Therefore, we conducted this two-part research comprising a meta-analysis on published literature and a lab experiment focusing on microplastic shapes- and polymer-induced effects on soil aggregation and organic matter decomposition. We here focus on fibers, films, foams and particles as microplastic shapes.In the meta-analysis, we found a strong research focus on fibrous and particulate microplastic materials, with films and foams neglected.Our experiment showed that microplastic shapes are important modulators of responses in soil aggregation and organic matter decomposition. Fibers, irrespective of their chemistry, negatively affected the formation of aggregates. However, for other shapes like foams and particles, the polymer identity is an important factor co-modulating the soil responses.Further research is needed to generate a data-driven foundation to permit a better mechanistic understanding of the importance and consequences of microplastics added to soils.

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APA

Lehmann, A., Leifheit, E. F., Gerdawischke, M., & Rillig, M. C. (2021). Microplastics have shape- and polymer-dependent effects on soil aggregation and organic matter loss – an experimental and meta-analytical approach. Microplastics and Nanoplastics, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43591-021-00007-x

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