Microplastics are found in almost every ecosystem on the planet. These ubiquitous pollutants have been detected near the peak of Mount Everest, in the Mariana Trench, Antarctica’s snow and even in human blood.
Now, researchers have found a new vessel for microplastics: water trapped in plant leaf axils.
“The first finding of microplastics in small short-term water reservoirs created by plants is further evidence that contamination of this kind spreads through various pathways and probably no environment on Earth is safe.” said the researchers from the University of Presov in Slovakia.
The study was based on organisms living in the little water puddles forming in teasel leaf axils.
Teasels of the genus Dipsacus have characteristic opposite leaves that grow on the stem above each other on several levels.
They clasp the stem and form cup-like structures that collect water, known as telematics.
“Teasel phytotelmata are a relatively common but overlooked aquatic microcosm with a very short-term occurrence of only 3 to 4 months,” said the researchers.
During the study, the researcher found differently coloured fragments and fibres with some reaching 2.4 mm in length, which were identified as microplastics.
“These phytotelmata are very small and have a short lifespan,” according to the study published in the journal BioRisk.
“Since there were no other sources of contamination, the fragments and fibres were most likely from a polluted atmosphere,” revealed the researcher.
“Another theory is that snails may have transported them from the soil or other plants, in or on their bodies,” they added.
Due to their abundance and theoretical ability to capture microplastics in several ways from the environment, teasel phytotelmata could be a good indicator of microplastic presence.
The above article has been published from a wire agency with minimal modifications to the headline and text.