Fungi on microplastics can cause the next massive infection

Scientists have noticed that numerous species of pathogenic fungi are finding new habitats on particles

microplastics in the soil.They can be one of the reasons for the increase in the number of fungal infections. Researchers in Germany analyzed fungal growths from soil samples taken near settlements in western Kenya.

This study is the first to focus onthe study of fungal communities on microplastic particles in the soil. Many of the detected species belong to the groups of fungi that are pathogenic for plants, animals and humans. Pathogenic micro-fungi are able to colonize the surfaces of microplastic particles due to their characteristic adhesive lifestyle. In addition, they are able to withstand strong solar radiation and the heat they are exposed to on the soil surface.

“We have observed all stages of the formation of fungalbiofilms on microplastic particles extracted from soil samples. At the same time, we were able to show that mushrooms not only grow, but also multiply in the so-called plastisphere. The data support the hypothesis that fungi systematically colonize microplastics in the soil. Moreover, they serve as evidence that microplastics in the soil accumulate certain types of pathogenic fungi: some species that are dangerous to humans, including black fungus and cryptococcal yeasts, are present on the surface of microplastic particles in higher concentrations than in the surrounding soil ”, - noted by the researchers.

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To study microplastic particles, theyused imaging techniques such as scanning electron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Analysis of metabarcoding showed that the number of species on microplastic particles was different than in soil samples. “Thus, the results of our study support the assumption that specialized fungal communities are formed on microplastic particles, which are significantly different from the fungal communities in the surrounding soil,” the researchers added.

The researchers noted that their discovery indicateson the urgency of the problem in tropical regions, where the level of fungal infections is already high. At the same time, the growth of fungal infections is observed all over the world, but measures for waste management are required to stop this growth, they are sure.

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