A1 Journal article (refereed)
Biodegradation of microplastic in freshwaters : a long‐lasting process affected by the lake microbiome (2022)

Taipale, S. J., Vesamäki, J., Kautonen, P., Kukkonen, J. V. K., Biasi, C., Nissinen, R., & Tiirola, M. T. (2022). Biodegradation of microplastic in freshwaters : a long‐lasting process affected by the lake microbiome. Environmental Microbiology, Early online. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.16177

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsTaipale, S. J.; Vesamäki, J.; Kautonen, P.; Kukkonen, J. V. K.; Biasi, C.; Nissinen, R.; Tiirola, M. T.

Journal or seriesEnvironmental Microbiology



Publication year2022

Publication date16/08/2022

VolumeEarly online


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82786


Plastics have been produced for over a century, but definitive evidence of complete plastic biodegradation in different habitats, particularly freshwater ecosystems, is still missing. Using 13C-labeled polyethylene microplastics (PE-MP) and stable isotope analysis of produced gas and microbial membrane lipids, we determined the biodegradation rate and fate of carbon in PE-MP in different freshwater types. The biodegradation rate in the humic-lake waters was much higher (0.45±0.21% per year) than in the clear-lake waters (0.07±0.06% per year) or the artificial freshwater medium (0.02±0.02% per year). Complete biodegradation of PE-MP was calculated to last 100-200 years in humic-lake waters, 300-4000 years in clear-lake waters, and 2000-20000 years in the artificial freshwater medium. The concentration of 18:1ω7, characteristic phospholipid fatty acid in Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria, was a predictor of faster biodegradation of PE. Uncultured Acetobacterioceae and Comamonadacea among Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria, respectively, were major bacteria related to the biodegradation of PE-MP. Altogether, it seems that microbes in the humic lakes with natural refractory polymers have a better ability to decompose PE than in other waters.

Keywordsecosystems (ecology)aquatic ecosystemswater qualitymicro-litterbiodegradationplasticpolyethylenepolymersfresh waterhumus lakes

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-15-06 at 00:27