Recently scientists have found a bit of polyester in the gut of tiny organism known as Cryptopygus antarcticus. A soil dwelling organism in the Antarctica, raising concern that the microplastic pollution has already entered deeply in the world’s most remote land-based food system.
While the infiltration of microplastic throughout the ocean is well known to all of us, the researchers said these are the finding that provide the first evidence of contamination in Antarctic terrestrial food chain. And therefore, plastics have became the major concern as it has entered into the most remote soil food web on a planet with the potential risk for the whole biota and ecosystem.
Antarctica is already facing threat from climatic change and now contamination in their terrestrial food web can too lead to disaster.
So, from where does this plastic comes from?
A small organism commonly known as springtail that can jump in a similar way to flea, although they are not classified as insect. They are among the few organisms that adopted the harsh climate of Antarctica and there are often dominant species , where the area is not covered with ice. They eat micro algae and lichen and through these microalgae and moss chunk, this polyesters enter in the food web ,according to the study led by Italy’s University of Siena.
Human activity in the area including scientific research, station, airport and military factories, tourisms have acted upon to make it one of the most contaminated regions of Antarctica. By examining the springtail using an imaging technique with inflated and comparing the image to fragments of the polyester, the researcher concluded that there is a trace of plastic in their guts. The springtail has a key role in a special Antarctic traditional food web chain and therefore contamination in their guts can lead to lots of disasters. The implementation of plastic ingestion by these species include the potential redistribution of microplastic through the soil profile and transfer to the common predator, the moss and mites.
Bergami said contamination of land had drawn less attention and therefore she called for more research into the potential toxic of exposure to plastic which is associated with pathogen contamination and antibiotic resistance.
What concern does it brings?
Contaminated food chain can lead to lot of diseases, disturbances in biota and ecosystems as well. There has been a lot of studies that shows there is food contamination due to presence of microplastic in our ocean and that is distributed throughout the ecosystem. Food chain contamination in Antarctica can lead to severe disasters like frequent flooding, raising of sea level and global warming which is not good for anyone.
What can we do?
We should use plastic carefully. We have some responsibility towards our mother earth, if we can’t take care of her then we can’t take care of ourself or our future generation. We have to use less plastic either recycle them or reuse them. It’s up to you. But to save ourselves from future disaster we have to reduce our plastic consumption.