Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Impact of environmentally relevant nano- and micro-plastics on soil invertebrates

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   

Code Science Field
1.05  Natural Sciences  Earth and related Environmental sciences 
nanoplastics, microplastics, agricultural soil, textile microplastics, agricultural mulch, tyre wear particles, weathering, toxicity, immune-response, metabolic changes, leaching of chemical additives, terrestrial invertebrates, environmental risk assessment, sustainable agriculture
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (22)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  22313  PhD Janez Bernard  Civil engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2023  148 
2.  51859  PhD Andraž Dolar  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  52 
3.  11155  PhD Damjana Drobne  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  861 
4.  34926  Petra Horvat  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  46 
5.  50498  PhD Adrijan Ivanušec  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2022 - 2023  27 
6.  24447  PhD Anita Jemec Kokalj  Biology  Head  2020 - 2023  290 
7.  00412  PhD Igor Križaj  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  725 
8.  18802  PhD Adrijana Leonardi  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  156 
9.  24724  PhD Branka Mušič  Civil engineering  Researcher  2022 - 2023  118 
10.  32104  PhD Peter Nadrah  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2023  78 
11.  05008  PhD Mojca Narat  Biotechnology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  688 
12.  33175  PhD Sara Novak  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  105 
13.  28505  PhD Jernej Ogorevc  Animal production  Researcher  2020 - 2023  137 
14.  55385  Valentina Perc  Biology  Junior researcher  2021 - 2023  14 
15.  38146  PhD Tanja Pirnat  Animal production  Junior researcher  2020 - 2023  15 
16.  04570  PhD Jože Pungerčar  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  320 
17.  37504  PhD Neža Repar  Biology  Researcher  2021 - 2023  31 
18.  12521  PhD Andrijana Sever Škapin  Civil engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2023  428 
19.  51144  Gregor Strmljan  Civil engineering  Researcher  2020 - 2021 
20.  21553  PhD Jernej Šribar  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  108 
21.  32022  PhD Erika Švara Fabjan  Chemistry  Researcher  2020 - 2023  72 
22.  16065  PhD Primož Zidar  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2023  171 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  90,624 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,240 
3.  1502  Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute  Ljubljana  5866324000  10,452 
In recent years, nano- and micro-plastics pollution (NMPs) has become one of the major public environmental concerns expressed throughout the globe. Although terrestrial environment is a substantial source and sink of NMPs pollution, there is still a lack of comparative knowledge regarding potential sublethal effects that nano- and micro-plastics may have on terrestrial organisms. A comprehensive assessment of physiological response of organisms upon ingestion of NMPs is therefore warranted. To be able to identify realistic threats that NMPs pose to organisms, we need more environmentally relevant research, especially focusing on agricultural soil. The main objective of this project is to investigate the impact of environmentally relevant NMPs on terrestrial invertebrates. Environmental relevance will be considered in terms of tested plastic particles, which will be derived from relevant materials commonly found in agricultural soil, and by subjecting NMPs to environmental weathering. We will address the following main issues: (i) sublethal physiological responses of organisms to NMPs exposure, with particular focus on immune-related processes, (ii) identify the probable adverse outcome pathways related to NMPs, (iii) contribution of environmental aging to adverse effects of NMPs, (iv) the difference between the hazard posed by nanoplastic vs microplastics. The project will comprise of three methodological parts: supply of NMPs and physico-chemical characterisation, weathering of NMPs and the study of adverse effects on terrestrial organisms. Nano- and microplastics will be milled from plastic source materials (tyres, agricultural plastic mulch and textile) using appropriate planetary ball mills. Also, NMPs will be supplied by external partner from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Physico-chemical characterisation will include the size analysis, surface topology, shape, polymer composition and leaching analysis from NMPs. Accelerated weathering which simulates damaging effects of long-term outdoor exposure of polymers will be done according to established protocols already employed as regular testing approaches for polymer accelerated aging. Terrestrial organisms with different ecological roles and soil niches will be studied: the woodlice P. scaber, white earthworm E. crypticus and mealworm beetle T. molitor. They will be exposed to NMPs via soil exposure and afterwards whole-organism endpoints such as the feeding rate, growth, energy reserves and survival will be followed. The ingestion, fragmentation and retention of microplastics in the gut will be investigated using light and electron microscopy. Immune-related parameters will be followed using spectrophotometric analysis and expression of selected immune-related genes. Proteome analysis of haemolymph will also be done to complement gene expression analysis interpretation as well as to elucidate antioxidant and detoxification processes. Feasibility of the project will be ensured by highly-skilled international interdisciplinary team. The core team from the Department of Biology at Biotechnical faculty will cooperate with the Department of Animal Sciences (BF), Institute “Jožef Stefan” and Slovenian national building and civil engineering institute. Two external partners from EU; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and the SYKE Finnish Environment Institute; will importantly contribute to the proposed project work. Knowledge regarding microplastics effects on terrestrial organisms will contribute to in-depth understanding of potential hazard posed by nano and microplastics. The data delivered by this project will be useful in environmental risk assessment frameworks. The project will also reveal important biological understanding about the link between the alterations induced in digestive system and modulation of immune-related processes. The results of this project will greatly influence the field of NMPs environmental safety research.
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