Microplastics found in water held by leaves

MADRID, Sep. 9 (EUROPA PRESS) –

For the first timemicroplastics have been found in water trapped in the axils of plant leaves, during a study of organisms that live housed in them.

Teasels of the genus Dipsacus have characteristic opposite leaves that grow on the stem one above the other at various levels. As they grip the stem, they form cup-shaped structures that collect water, known as phytotelmas..

To their surprise, scientists from the University of Presov, Slovakia, found fragments and fibers of different colors, some up to 2.4 mm in length, which were identified as microplastic contamination.

“These phytotelms are very small and have short lifespans,” the researchers write in their paper, which was published in the journal BioRisk. “The question is, therefore, how did they become contaminated with microplastics?”

No other sources of contaminants were found in the study area, so it is most likely that the fragments and fibers come from a polluted atmospherethey suggest. Another theory is that the snails may have carried them from the ground or from other plants, in or on their bodies.

“The first finding of microplastics in small, short-term water reservoirs created by plants is further evidence that pollution of this kind spreads through several pathways and probably no environment on Earth is safe, which of course makes our discovery quite dauntingsay the researchers.

They suggest that due to their abundance and theoretical ability to capture microplastics from the environment in various ways, the leaves of these plants could be a good indicator of the presence of microplastics.

“Thus, our publication not only brings the first discovery of microplastic contamination of such habitats, but also the first proposal for a new approach for the use of teasel phytotelmas and similar plant-provided (or artificially created) microecosystems,” as bioindicators of the presence of microplastics in the environment, possible sources and pathways of their spread through the environment, and spatio-temporal changes in microplastic pollution.”

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