Microbial community shifts induced by plastic and zinc as substitutes of tire abrasion

Sieber, Guido;
Beisser, Daniela; Rothenberger, J. L.;
Biodiversity, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.
Shah, Manan; Schumann, M.; Sures, Bernd;
Boenigk, Jens
Aquatic environments serve as a sink for anthropogenic discharges. A significant part of the discharge is tire wear, which is increasingly being released into the environment, causing environmental disasters due to their longevity and the large number of pollutants they contain. Main components of tires are plastic and zinc, which therefore can be used as substitutes for tire abrasion to study the effect on microbial life. We investigate environmentally realistic concentrations of plastic and zinc on a freshwater microeukaryotic community using high-throughput sequencing of the 18S V9 region over a 14-day exposure period. Apart from a generally unchanged diversity upon exposure to zinc and nanoplastics, a change in community structure due to zinc is evident, but not due to nanoplastics. Evidently, nanoplastic particles hardly affect the community, but zinc exposure results in drastic functional abundance shifts concerning the trophic mode. Phototrophic microorganisms were almost completely diminished initially, but photosynthesis recovered. However, the dominant taxa performing photosynthesis changed from bacillariophytes to chlorophytes. While phototrophic organisms are decreasing in the presence of zinc, the mixotrophic fraction initially benefitted and the heterotrophic fraction were benefitting throughout the exposure period. In contrast to lasting changes in taxon composition, the functional community composition is initially strongly imbalanced after application of zinc but returns to the original state.


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