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Exposure to microplastics lowers arsenic accumulation and alters gut bacterial communities of earthworm Metaphire californica

Wang, Hong-Tao, Ding, Jing, Xiong, Chan, Zhu, Dong, Li, Gang, Jia, Xiao-Yu, Zhu, Yong-Guan, Xue, Xi-Mei
Environmental pollution 2019 v.251 pp. 110-116
arsenates, arsenic, arsenites, bacterial communities, bioavailability, digestive system, earthworms, ecotoxicology, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, intestinal microorganisms, microplastics, pollutants, soil, soil ecosystems, tissues, toxicity
Ubiquitous contamination of microplastics and arsenic in soil ecosystems can induce many health issues to nontarget soil organisms, and will also cause many potential threats to the gut bacterial communities of soil fauna. However, the changes in the gut bacterial communities of soil fauna after exposure to both microplastics and arsenic remain unknown. In this study, the toxicity and effects on the gut microbiota of earthworm Metaphire californica caused by the combined exposure of microplastics and arsenic were examined by using arsenic species analysis and high throughput sequencing of gut microbiota. Results showed that total arsenic and arsenic species in the earthworm gut and body tissues after exposure to combination of microplastics with arsenate (As(V)) were significantly different from that treated with As(V) alone. Microplastics lessened the accumulation of total arsenic and the transformation rate of As(V) to arsenite (As(III)). Microplastics alleviated the effect of arsenic on the gut microbiota possibly via adsorbing/binding As(V) and lowering arsenic bioavailability, thus prevented the reduction of As(V) and accumulation of total arsenic in the gut which resulted in a lower toxicity on the earthworm. The study broadens our understanding of the ecotoxicity of microplastics with other pollutants on the soil animals and on their gut microbiota.