Home About Browse Search

Nanoplastic Transport in Soil via Bioturbation by Lumbricus terrestris

Heinze, Wiebke Mareile and Mitrano, Denise M. and Lahive, Elma and Koestel, John and Cornelis, Geert (2021). Nanoplastic Transport in Soil via Bioturbation by Lumbricus terrestris. Environmental Science and Technology. 55 :24 , 16423-16433
[Research article]

[img] PDF


Plastic pollution is increasingly perceived as an emerging threat to terrestrial environments, but the spatial and temporal dimension of plastic exposure in soils is poorly understood. Bioturbation displaces microplastics (>1 mu m) in soils and likely also nanoplastics (<1 mu m), but empirical evidence is lacking. We used a combination of methods that allowed us to not only quantify but to also understand the mechanisms of biologically driven transport of nanoplastics in microcosms with the deep-burrowing earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. We hypothesized that ingestion and subsurface excretion drives deep vertical transport of nanoplastics that subsequently accumulate in the drilosphere, i.e., burrow walls. Significant vertical transport of palladium-doped polystyrene nanoplastics (diameter 256 nm), traceable using elemental analysis, was observed and increased over 4 weeks. Nanoplastics were detected in depurated earthworms confirming their uptake without any detectable negative impact. Nanoplastics were indeed enriched in the drilosphere where cast material was visibly incorporated, and the reuse of initial burrows could be monitored via X-ray computed tomography. Moreover, the speed of nanoplastics transport to the deeper soil profile could not be explained with a local mixing model. Earthworms thus repeatedly ingested and excreted nanoplastics in the drilosphere calling for a more explicit inclusion of bioturbation in nanoplastic fate modeling under consideration of the dominant mechanism. Further investigation is required to quantify nanoplastic re-entrainment, such as during events of preferential flow in burrows.

Authors/Creators:Heinze, Wiebke Mareile and Mitrano, Denise M. and Lahive, Elma and Koestel, John and Cornelis, Geert
Title:Nanoplastic Transport in Soil via Bioturbation by Lumbricus terrestris
Series Name/Journal:Environmental Science and Technology
Year of publishing :2021
Page range:16423-16433
Number of Pages:11
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Environmental Sciences (social aspects to be 507)
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Soil Science
Keywords:Microplastic, transport, fate, exposure, X-ray computed tomography, earthworms
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000730350100001
ID Code:27564
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
(S) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:19 Apr 2022 07:25
Metadata Last Modified:19 Apr 2022 07:31

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Downloads per year (since September 2012)

View more statistics