Micaela Mafla Endara
About my research
Environmental plastic contamination is a global problem that recquires urgent actions. Many studies have already demonstrated how the pollution with plastic materials is seriously affecting marine environments. However, there is less knowledge about of plastics in freshwater systems and even less studies are focused in soil ecosystems.
New evidence suggests that terrestrial ecosystems are large reservoir of plastics, specifically micro- and nanoplastics, but their origin, occurrence and fate are mostly unknown. According to recent studies microplastics might negatively influence soil organisms´s performance by reducing their fitness, much less is known about the impact of microplastics on soil microorganisms. Considering that soil microbial communities are responsible for fundamental soil processes such as nutrient cycling and carbon storage, and that the accumulation and potential toxicity of micro- and nanoplastics in soils can affect their habitat and therefore their functions, there is a strong call for investigation.
My PhD project aims to investigate the effects of different types of micro(nano)plastics on soil microbiota´s performance, their ecosystem services, their community composition and their interaction with the soil system. The later goal will be to communicate the findings to prevent potential risks and hazards of agricultural and societal practices for ecosystem functions and biological conservation.
I first became involved in molecular and ecological research while I was doing my BSc in Biology in Ecuador. Then I deepened my knowledge of ecology and conservation biology during my master program in Lund University. In parallel to my master studies, I became a lab assistant of the project “The Soil Chip” in which I gained great knowledge about microfluidic systems, soil microorganisms and microscopy. During all this learning process, I realized that many environmental problems causing the nature deterioration are not well understood. This motivated me to pursue this PhD (started in April 2019) in order to study the negative effects of anthropogenic contaminants on the diverse soil biological components. In addition, I would like to be involved in the development of soil quality bioindicators, the creation of environmental risk assessments and the scientific communication.
Sölvegatan 37, Lund