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Not Just Oceans, Nanoplastics Can Affect the Growth of Plants on Land as Well

Nanoplastics can drastically affect plant growth by accumulating on tissues | Image credit: Reuters (Representational)

Nanoplastics can drastically affect plant growth by accumulating on tissues | Image credit: Reuters (Representational)

Accumulation of nanoplastics on plants can have both direct ecological effects and implications for agricultural sustainability and food safety

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The concern about improper disposal of plastic has been going on for a while now. Today, more and more people are worried about micro- and nanoplastics ending up in the oceans and in seafood.

According to a study published in phys.org, Baoshan Xing of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and his colleagues in China are studying about the behaviour of nanoplastics in terrestrial environments, especially agricultural soils.

Baoshan, an environmental scientist at UMass’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and collaborators at Shandong University in China have pointed out that till now there is no direct proof that nanoplastics are internalized by terrestrial plants.

Their study states, “Our findings provide direct evidence that nanoplastics can accumulate in plants, depending on their surface charge. Plant accumulation of nanoplastics can have both direct ecological effects and implications for agricultural sustainability and food safety.”

Baoshan mentions that due to the widespread global use and persistence of plastic, there has been a huge accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. He mentions, “Our experiments have given us evidence of nanoplastics uptake and accumulation in plants in the laboratory at the tissue and molecular level using microscopic, molecular and genetic approaches. We have demonstrated this from root to shoot.”

Describing how positively charged particles are different from the negatively charged ones, Baoshan explains that the positively charged particles were not taken up so much, but are more harmful to the plant. They interact more with water, nutrients and roots, and trigger different sets of gene expressions.

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