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A novel approach to extract, purify, and fractionate microplastics from environmental matrices by isopycnic ultracentrifugation

Title data

Jakobs, Aileen ; Gürkal, Elif ; Möller, Julia N. ; Löder, Martin G. J. ; Laforsch, Christian ; Lüders, Tillmann:
A novel approach to extract, purify, and fractionate microplastics from environmental matrices by isopycnic ultracentrifugation.
In: Science of the Total Environment. Vol. 857, Part 3 (20 January 2023) . - No. 159610.
ISSN 0048-9697
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159610

Project information

Project title:
Project's official titleProject's id
SFB 1357 Mikroplastik391977956

Project financing: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Abstract in another language

The increasing accumulation of microplastics (MP) in the environment is considered one of the most important environmental challenges of our times. Reliable extraction and detection methods for MP in environmental samples are essential for determining the extent of pollution and assessing ecological risks. However, extraction of MP from complex environmental matrices such as soil remains technically challenging. Today, density-based extractions with saturated salt solutions are widely applied. Nevertheless, current methods do not allow for the fractionation of different MP particle types according to their specific polymer densities. Here, we present a novel isopycnic ultracentrifugation approach for the simultaneous extraction and fractionation of MP mixtures based on the particle-specific buoyant densities. In this proof-of-concept study, diffusion-based density gradients were prepared using caesium chloride media, covering a density range between 1.1 and 1.5 g mL−1, sufficient to resolve many common polymer densities. We selected MP particles with a low (polyamide; PA66), medium (polybutylene adipate terephthalate; PBAT), and high (polyethylene terephthalate; PET) density to validate separation performance. Both pristine and soil-incubated MP mixtures showed clear banding patterns at expected buoyant densities after isopycnic separation. μFTIR imaging of subsamples collected from resolved MP fractions showed a polymer-specific separation of ≥87.6 %. In addition, the quantitative recovery of MP particles from soil was between 86 and 99 %. The potential of isopycnic ultracentrifugation to preserve MP-associated biofilms was also assessed. Soil-incubated MP particles were inspected by confocal laser scanning microscopy before and after isopycnic separation, indicating a preservation of bioorganic structures. Hence, isopycnic ultracentrifugation offers a powerful novel approach for a polymer-specific extraction and resolution of MP particles with a wide potential for applications in MP research.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I > Chair Animal Ecology I - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Ecological Microbiology > Chair Ecological Microbiology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Tillmann Lüders
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Research Institutions > Collaborative Research Centers, Research Unit > SFB 1357 - MIKROPLASTIK
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2022 10:06
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2022 10:06
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/72788