The “Plastisphere” of Biodegradable Plastics Is Characterized by Specific Microbial Taxa of Alpine and Arctic Soils

Catégorie : Plastisphère
Date :30 octobre 2020
Ruthi, Joel; Bolsterli, Damian; Pardi-Comensoli, Lucrezia; Brunner, Ivano; Frey, Beat.
Frontiers in Environmental Science : 8
Plastic pollution poses a threat to terrestrial ecosystems, even impacting soils from remote alpine and arctic areas. Biodegradable plastics are a promising solution to prevent long-term accumulation of plastic litter. However, little is known about the decomposition of biodegradable plastics in soils from alpine and polar ecosystems or the microorganisms involved in the process. Plastics in aquatic environments have previously been shown to form a microbial community on the surface of the plastic distinct from that in the surrounding water, constituting the so-called “plastisphere.” Comparable studies in terrestrial environments are scarce. Here, we aimed to characterize the plastisphere microbiome of three types of plastics differing in their biodegradability in soil using DNA metabarcoding. Polylactic acid (PLA), polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT), and polyethylene (PE) were buried in two different soils, from the Swiss Alps and from Northern Greenland, at 15 degrees C for 8 weeks. While physico-chemical characteristics of the polymers only showed minor (PLA, PBAT) or no (PE) changes after incubation, a considerably lower alpha-diversity was observed on the plastic surfaces and prominent shifts occurred in the bacterial and fungal community structures between the plastisphere and the adjacent bulk soil not affected by the plastic. Effects on the plastisphere microbiome increased with greater biodegradability of the plastics, from PE to PLA. Copiotrophic taxa within the phyla Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria benefitted the most from plastic input. Especially taxa with a known potential to degrade xenobiotics, including Burkholderiales, Caulobacterales,Pseudomonas,Rhodococcus, andStreptomyces, thrived in the plastisphere of the Alpine and Arctic soils. In addition, Saccharimonadales (superphylum Patescibacteria) was identified as a key taxon associated with PLA. The association of Saccharibacteria with plastic has not been reported before, and pursuing this finding further may shed light on the lifestyle of this obscure candidate phylum. Plastic addition affected fungal taxa to a lesser extent since only few fungal genera such asPhlebiaandAlternariawere increased on the plastisphere. Our findings suggest that the soil microbiome can be strongly influenced by plastic pollution in terrestrial cryoenvironments. Further research is required to fully understand microbial colonization on plastic surfaces and the biodegradation of plastic in soils.