Plastic particles affect N2O release via altering core microbial metabolisms in constructed wetlands

Xiangyu Yang, Yi Chen*, Tao Liu, Lu Zhang, Hui Wang, Mengli Chen, Qiang He, Gang Liu, Feng Ju*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Constructed wetlands (CWs) have been proven to effectively immobilize plastic particles. However, little is known about the differences in the impact of varying sized plastic particles on nitrous oxide (N2O) release, as well as the intervention mechanisms in CWs. Here, we built a lab-scale wetland model and introduced plastic particles of macro-, micro-, and nano-size at 100 μg/L for 370 days. The results showed that plastic particles of all sizes reduced N2O release in CWs, with the degrees being the strongest for the Nano group, followed by Micro and Macro groups. Meanwhile, 15N- and 18O-tracing experiment revealed that the ammoxidation process contributed the most N2O production, followed by denitrification. While for every N2O-releasing process, the contributing proportion of N2O in nitrification-coupled denitrification were most significantly cut down under exposing to macro-sized plastics and had an obvious increase in nitrifier denitrification in all groups, respectively. Finally, we revealed the three mechanism pathways of N2O release reduction with macro-, micro-, and nano-sized plastics by impacting carbon assimilation (RubisCO activity), ammonia oxidation (gene amo abundance and HAO activity), and N-ion transmembrane and reductase activities, respectively. Our findings thus provided novel insights into the potential effects of plastic particles in CWs as an eco-technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121506
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Carbon metabolism
  • Constructed wetlands
  • Nitrogen metabolism
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Plastic particles


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