Negative effects of EPDM microplastic and cork granules on plant growth are mitigated by earthworms and likely caused by their structural properties

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2023
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Rittelmann-Woods, Elina
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Science of The Total Environment. Elsevier. 2023, 897, 165354. ISSN 0048-9697. eISSN 1879-1026. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165354
Zusammenfassung

Soil microplastic pollution can have negative effects on organisms, including plants, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We tested whether structural or chemical properties of a microplastic cause its effects on plant above- and belowground growth and whether these effects can be influenced by earthworms. We conducted a factorial experiment in a greenhouse with seven common Central European grassland species. Microplastic granules of the synthetic rubber ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM),1 a frequently used infill material of artificial turfs, and cork granules with a comparable size and shape to the EPDM granules were used to test for structural effects of granules in general. To test for chemical effects, EPDM-infused fertilizer was used, which should have contained any leached water-soluble chemical components of EPDM. Two Lumbricus terrestris individuals were added to half of the pots, to test whether these earthworms modify effects of EPDM on plant growth. EPDM granules had a clear negative effect on plant growth, but since cork granules had a negative effect of similar magnitude, with an average decrease in biomass of 37 % in presence of granules, this is likely due to the structural properties of granules (i.e., size and shape). For some belowground plant traits, EPDM had a stronger effect than cork, which shows that there must be other factors playing into the effects of EPDM on plant growth. The EPDM-infused fertilizer did not have any significant effect on plant growth by itself, but it had in interaction with other treatments. Earthworms had an overall positive effect on plant growth and mitigated most of the negative effects of EPDM. Our study shows that EPDM microplastic can have negative effects on plant growth, and that these might be more related to its structural than to its chemical properties.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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Pollution, Waste Management and Disposal, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Engineering
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ISO 690RITTELMANN-WOODS, Elina, Tom LACHAISE, Mark VAN KLEUNEN, 2023. Negative effects of EPDM microplastic and cork granules on plant growth are mitigated by earthworms and likely caused by their structural properties. In: Science of The Total Environment. Elsevier. 2023, 897, 165354. ISSN 0048-9697. eISSN 1879-1026. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165354
BibTex
@article{RittelmannWoods2023-11Negat-67371,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165354},
  title={Negative effects of EPDM microplastic and cork granules on plant growth are mitigated by earthworms and likely caused by their structural properties},
  volume={897},
  issn={0048-9697},
  journal={Science of The Total Environment},
  author={Rittelmann-Woods, Elina and Lachaise, Tom and van Kleunen, Mark},
  note={Article Number: 165354}
}
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