• E. Huerta Lwanga (Corresponding author)
  • B. Thapa
  • X. Yang
  • H. Gertsen
  • T. Salánki
  • V. Geissen
  • P.V. Garbeva
Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is the most abundant source of microplastic pollution worldwide. A recent
study found that LDPE decay was increased and the size of the plastic was decreased after passing through the
gut of the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris (Oligochaeta). Here, we investigated the involvement of earthworm
gut bacteria in the microplastic decay. The bacteria isolated from the earthworm's gut were Gram-positive, belonging
to phylum Actinobacteria and Firmicutes. These bacteria were used in a short-term microcosm experiment
performed with gamma-sterilized soil with or without LDPE microplastics (MP). We observed that the
LDPE-MP particle size was significantly reduced in the presence of bacteria. In addition, the volatile profiles of
the treatments were compared and clear differences were detected. Several volatile compounds such as
octadecane, eicosane, docosane and tricosane were measured only in the treatments containing both bacteria
and LDPE-MP, indicating that these long-chain alkanes are byproducts of bacterial LDPE-MP decay.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-757
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • international

ID: 5908819