Long-term effect of microplastics on soil microbial community in marine coastal environment.

, Bødtker Gunhild, Hovland Beate, Haave Marte, Andersen Gidske, Bastesen Eivind.

Costal environments are hot spots for accumulation of marine plastic litter. An exposed fjord beach in Tysnes, Norway have received ocean transported plastic since the 1950, which has generated heavily microplastic polluted soil at the backshore of the beach. Because the area is part of a nature reserve attempts are made to restore the microplastic polluted soil by different cleaning methods including soil sifting. As part of the assessment of ecological consequences of cleaning, soil samples will be analysed for microbial community composition by NGS before and at intervals after cleaning, over a period of 5 years. The current study presents results from the baseline before cleaning. Results show that the microplastic polluted soil contain a more diverse community of procaryotes (16S) and fungi (ITS) compared to nearby plastic free soil. Although microplastics and surrounding soil shared many of the same OTUs, soil contained a 15-fold higher number of specific 16S OTUs and 3-fold higher number of specific ITS OTUs. Based on relative abundance of phylogenetically assigned OTUs, bacterial phyla dominant in both soils were Proteobacteria, Planctomycetes, Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia and Actinobacteria. Dominant fungal phyla were Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Rozellomycota and Mortierellomycota in addition to unassigned sequences. The relative abundance of fungi varied between the two soils, with overall higher abundance of Ascomycota, Rozellomycota and unassigned sequences in microplastic soil, and Basidiomycota and Mortierellomycota in control soil. The bacterial composition on microplastics were like surrounding soil at phylum level, with enrichments of plastic-degrading genera Pseudomonas and Bacillus observed on individual microplastics. The microplastics colonised by Pseudomonas also showed enrichment of the fungal genera Mortierella and Cenococcum. The results suggest effects of long-term exposure to microplastics on diversity and composition of soil microorganisms. Monitoring after cleaning will give important knowledge on the recovery rate of natural soils after long-term exposure to microplastic pollution.

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