Chinese researchers have noted that a plant growing in soil polluted with fine nanoplastic particles could see its growth completely slowed down. This does not bode well for the rest of the food chain.
Plastic is a scourge that even plants cannot get rid of. Chinese researchers at Shandong University in Qingdao, south of Beijing, have sadly observed this in a series of experiments. They have indeed carried out several tests to find out whether tiny pieces of plastic, nanoplastics, could be found in organisms that only draw water and mineral salts from the soil. All of their results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Scientists have grown Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as the Ladies’ Arabette, in soil and a transparent agarose substrate. They injected several 100 nanometer concentrations of nanoplastics (one thousandth of the thickness of a sheet of paper) into the soil and substrate. In each case, at different scales, the plants that grew up in environments polluted by nanoplastics did not have the same growth as that of the plants in the control group, without nanoplastics.
In addition, nanoplastics also weakened the development of seeds and therefore the good reproduction of plants. According to the researchers, the nanoplastic would accumulate in the vessels of the roots, transported by the drained water, and would form a blockade preventing the nutrients from reaching the growth zones of the plants. Biologists have also noticed that some plants exposed to nanoplastics do not have the same resistance to diseases as their congeners. If they fail to explain it with certainty today, he suspects that the absorbed nanoplastic may have a broader epigenetic role in plant health. Above all, this new study confirms the fact that we ingest nanoplastics ourselves through the vegetables and fruits we eat. “Terrestrial plants form the basis of many food chains,” said Xian-Zheng Yuan, one of its authors, in Gizmodo. The accumulation of nanoplastics in plants could impact them on several levels and would constitute a risk for agricultural yields, the quality of food but also our health. ”