Microplastics Discovered in Plant Leaf Water

Medscape Staff

November 29, 2022

Tiny pieces of plastic are now being detected in the water that forms on plant leaves in a discovery that shows how prevalent microplastics are in our ecosystems, according to biologists at Slovakia’s University of Prešov.

What to Know

  • Teasel plants have unique leaves that grow on the stem above each other in several levels so that as they clasp the stem, they form cuplike structures that collect fresh water, known as telmata.

  • Little water puddles that form in teasel leaf axils create short-term aquatic microcosms known as teasel phytotelmata.

  • A close look at the makeup of these water puddles determined that they contained differently colored fragments and fibers, some reaching 2.4 mm in length, which were identified as microplastics.

  • Since there was no nearby source of plastics where the teasels were growing, it is believed that the microplastics most likely came from polluted atmosphere.

  • The first finding of microplastics in small, short-term water reservoirs created by plants is further evidence that contamination from microplastics spreads through various pathways and poses a potential threat to the plants themselves, as well as organisms bound to them by ecologic relations.

This is a summary of the article, "The First Evidence of Microplastics in Plant-Formed Fresh-Water Micro-Ecosystems: Dipsacus Teasel Phytotelmata in Slovakia Contaminated With MPs," published by BioRisk on August 30, 2022. The full article can be found on biorisk.pensoft.net.

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