- Soil biology
- Soil sciences, challenges and pollution not elsewhere classified
Agricultural and food sciences
- Horticultural crop production
While the effect of plastic in marine ecosystems has been studied extensively, the knowledge on microplastic (MP) pollution in soil ecosystems is limited. We do not know if MP pollution affects soil ecosystem functions such as plant growth, microbial biomass and water permeability. Fundamental insights in their role on soil and plant health are missing as well. In this project we will therefore advance the field by working in a three step approach to define how MP pollution outbalances the soil ecosystem. First, we will assess the risk of pollution by measuring MPs in soils (with a focus on lettuce, maize and strawberry cultivation). Second, we will use this information to set up greenhouse experiments to test the effects of the current pollution on plant growth and disease resistance, in which lettuce and strawberry will be used as model crops. In the end, we want to reduce the risk by screening for microplastic degrading microorganisms naturally present in the soil.