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https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-4
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-4
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: review article 28 Feb 2020

Submitted as: review article | 28 Feb 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

What do we know about how the terrestrial multicellular soil fauna reacts to microplastic?

Frederick Büks1, Nicolette Loes van Schaik2, and Martin Kaupenjohann1 Frederick Büks et al.
  • 1Chair of Soil Science, Dept. of Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, 10587 Berlin, Germany
  • 2Chair of Ecohydrology & Landscape Evaluation, Dept. of Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, 10587 Berlin, Germany

Abstract. The ubiquitous accumulation of microplastic (MP) particles across all global ecosystems comes along with the uptake into soil food webs. In this review, we analyzed studies on passive translocation, active ingestion, bioaccumulation and adverse effects within the phylogenetic tree of multicellular soil faunal life. The representativity of these studies for natural soil ecosystems was assessed using data on the type of plastic, shape, composition, concentration and time of exposure.

Available studies cover a wide range of soil organisms, with emphasis on earthworms, nematodes, springtails, beetles and lugworms, each focused on well known model organisms. Most of the studies applied MP concentrations similar to amounts in slightly to very heavily polluted soils. In many cases, however, polystyrene microspheres have been used, a combination of plastic type and shape, that is easily available, but does not represent the main plastic input into soil ecosystems. In turn, MP fibres are strongly underrepresented compared to their high abundance within contaminated soils. Further properties of plastic such as aging, coating and additives were insufficiently documented. Despite these limitations, there is a recurring pattern of active intake followed by a population shift within the gut microbiome and adverse effects on motility, growth, metabolism, reproduction and mortality in various combinations, especially at high concentrations and small particle sizes.

For the improvement of future studies, we identified problems of past experiments and give recommendations that take into account the type, shape, grade of aging, specific concentrations of MP fractions and long-term incubation in natural and contaminated soils.

Frederick Büks et al.

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Frederick Büks et al.

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Latest update: 06 Apr 2020
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Short summary
Through anthropogenic input, microplastic (MP) today represents a part of the soil organic matter. We analyzed studies on passive translocation, active ingestion, bioaccumulation and adverse effects of MP on multicellular soil faunal life. These studies on a wide range of soil organisms found a recurring pattern of adverse effects on motility, growth, metabolism, reproduction, mortality and gut microbiome. However, shape and type of the experimental MP often did not match natural conditions.
Through anthropogenic input, microplastic (MP) today represents a part of the soil organic...
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