Plastic Fantastic


Working on a device similar to this to test for plastic eating bacteria, worm or fungus. Something like a well-plate where we can put in various pieces of plastic and dig them in different soils and then later scan them to see if we have found new plastic eating oranisms.

Let's share some resources dedicated to Open Soil Research
Introduce yourself

I just got contacted by this group, SLO active.

SLO (sustainable, luxury oceanwear) is about slowing down, dedicating time and energy to being the moment, and being conscious of the environment. Further to the fight against plastic pollution, we believe the environmental crisis has reached a critical tipping point, from the globalized mass production of goods, and fast fashion (the second most polluting industry), which has dark consequences on the environment and workers in the supply chain.


What do they have in mind? collaboration?


We are doing a session here with lifepatch and hysteria on the plastic issues in urban river waters. if anyone wants to contirbute remotely… more info coming soon!


Oliver Kellhammer has been doing interesting plastic composting experiments:


Also, here is one of the only articles I’ve come across that looks at plastic outside of marine systems: Dris, R., Gasperi, J., Rocher, V., Saad, M., Renault, N., & Tassin, B. (2015). Microplastic contamination in an urban area: A case study in Greater Paris. Environmental Chemistry , 12 (5), 592–599.


In the references to the paper mentioned above there was the following which looks at the subalpine Lake Garda, Italy. The lake is used for drinking water supply and is one of northern Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. I imagine it would be interesting to look at the Swiss Lakes, that share some of the same hydrology and urban-ness.

The paper is open access. It also has some methodology for feeding microplastics to Daphnia!

Contamination of beach sediments of a subalpine lake with microplastic particles
H. K. Imhof, N. P. Ivleva, J. Schmid, R. Niessner, C. Laforsch, Contamination of beach sediments of a subalpine lake with microplastic particles. Curr. Biol. 2013 , 23 , R867. DOI: [open access]


Hey guys,
One of the first scientists who investigated into microplastics in terrestrial ecosystems was Matthias Rillig. He’s Prof at the ‘Freie Universität Berlin’, and a true carreer guy! I have some friends and colleagues workin with him. So If you need some personal contacts for specific purposes, feel free to ask me.

The lIst of publications includes several papers on microplastic in soil ecosystems, beggining in 2011.
As he’s not really into open accsess, as so often in the ecology community. Please use for reading the publications.
I would love to join your activities of HUMUS.Sapiens very much. As times are very busy I keep on reading your posts.
Have fun in Luzern and Stuttgart!
Bjorn from Potsdam


Hi there,

thanks @Bjorn for mentioning the Rilling group in Berlin. They do indeed great work and are one of my favourite references in my work.

In my current project, I’m working with bacteria in plastic polluted soil, not so much fungi yet unfortunately.

Here’s a little documentation on the project in case you’re interested:

I’m based in Potsdam too by the way :wink:



Hey @nana,
nice project! Also nice to have you here,in Potsdam! May you are interested to come over to machBar-Potsdam (FabLab) at freiLand. Let’s see how we can support your project!


Thanks @Bjorn - you remind me that i should also post more on the papers i read… Rillig is a good source i think/thought. hmmm, that you call him a ‘carreer guy’ makes me think his research might be less trustworthy… what do you mean when you say that? what do you think about his research?

@nana you have been working with artlaboratory berlin an also some people from TopLab, right?!? are you in berlin/potsdam between 01. and 07. of october? :slight_smile:


Its also interesting to look into the history of this field of research:

In 2012 Rillig wrote a comment with the title: “Microplastic in Terrestrial Ecosystems and the Soil?” - it is a question!!! With the conclusion that “occurrence of microplastics in soil is eminently plausible and should be systematically examined”

Just a few years later other scientists are asking: “Are Agricultural Soils Dumps for Microplastics of Urban Origin?” (Nizzetto, Futter, Langaas) and “estimate that between 125 and 850 tons MP [Microplastic]/million inhabitants are added annually to European agricultural soils either through direct application of sewage sludge or as processed biosolids.”

Crazy world!!


Hey @julian,
What I meant with this is that he’s very focused on his academic research. His work is very good, but for a collaboration you would also need ‘very good reasons’, what means playing in his ‘very academic cards’. …


Just because we were chatting about this earlier.
I think it will be more for the Berlin based, under us,

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Rillig, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
“Microplastic in soil”
October 16, 2018, 3:00 p.m., building H, seminar room VR1

hav FuN


Hey plastic people,

@Bjorn Thanks for passing on the Plastic Colloquium at our Geomicrobiology group at GFZ Potsdam on 16th of October!

In case some of you are planning to join the talk, we could arrange a little project speed dating before at lunch time in our canteen. If there’s time, I can show you around the labs a bit.




Hi Guys/gals, Andrew here from BioQuisitive down in Aus (first post :smiley:) . We’ve been doing some projects with members of the community examining some of the places you can find plastic degrading bacteria. We were able to isolate various species from fuel caps on cars but found that the organisms were risk group 2 so had to abandon culturing them up in any real quantity. We’re keen to try and isolate some from the soil and other areas. As such, i’m checking to see if the device mentioned above has been field tested? We were going to bury some plastic in various metal mesh structures in different soil environments as a starting point.


cool project. very curious about the risk group 2. keep us posted :wink:


It was a strain of Pneumonia. So all the plates went in the kill bin real quick like. We’re looking at microbiomes of pantry moths (the ones that seem to always find their way into your unopened bags of rice)