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|Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
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|Microplastics in agriculture – a potential novel mechanism for the delivery of human pathogens onto crops
|Quilliam, Richard S
Pow, Chloe J
Shilla, Dativa J
Mwesiga, James J
Shilla, Daniel A
|Quilliam RS, Pow CJ, Shilla DJ, Mwesiga JJ, Shilla DA & Woodford L (2023) Microplastics in agriculture – a potential novel mechanism for the delivery of human pathogens onto crops. <i>Frontiers in Plant Science</i>, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2023.1152419
|Mulching with plastic sheeting, the use of plastic carriers in seed coatings, and irrigation with wastewater or contaminated surface water have resulted in plastics, and microplastics, becoming ubiquitous in agricultural soils. Once in the environment, plastic surfaces quickly become colonised by microbial biofilm comprised of a diverse microbial community. This so-called ‘plastisphere’ community can also include human pathogens, particularly if the plastic has been exposed to faecal contamination (e.g., from wastewater or organic manures and livestock faeces). The plastisphere is hypothesised to facilitate the survival and dissemination of pathogens, and therefore plastics in agricultural systems could play a significant role in transferring human pathogens to crops, particularly as microplastics adhering to ready to eat crops are difficult to remove by washing. In this paper we critically discuss the pathways for human pathogens associated with microplastics to interact with crop leaves and roots, and the potential for the transfer, adherence, and uptake of human pathogens from the plastisphere to plants. Globally, the concentration of plastics in agricultural soils are increasing, therefore, quantifying the potential for the plastisphere to transfer human pathogens into the food chain needs to be treated as a priority.
|Copyright © 2023 Quilliam, Pow, Shilla, Mwesiga, Shilla and Woodford. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
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