Metabolomics revealing the response of rice (Oryza sativa L.) exposed to polystyrene microplastics

Xiang Wu, Yao Liu, Shanshan Yin, Keke Xiao, Qiao Xiong, Shijie Bian, Sha Liang, Huijie Hou, Jingping Hu, Jiakuan Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Large amounts of microplastics accumulate in the agricultural soil. Microplastics would stress the crops but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Herein, a laboratory exposure and field trials were carried out to investigate the response of rice (Oryza sativa L. II You. 900) to stress induced by polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs) using a metabolomic approach. After laboratory exposure for 21 days, the decreases in shoot biomass of rice exposed to low, medium and high doses of PS-MPs were 13.1% (CV = 4.1%), 18.8% (CV = 3.7%), and 40.3% (CV = 9.2%), respectively, while the antioxidant enzymes showed an inverted upper-U shape when exposed to PS-MPs. A total of 24 samples from three exposure dose levels were included in the metabolic analysis. The metabolites of 12 amino acids, 16 saccharides, 26 organic acids and 17 others (lipids and polyols) in leaves decreased after the exposure to both 50 mg L−1 and 250 mg L−1 PS-MPs doses with hydroponically-cultured. The inhibition of perturbed biological pathway causes the biosynthesis of amino acids, nucleic acids, fatty acids and some secondary metabolites decreased which indicate that the energy expenditure exceeded the substance accumulation. In order to further validate the effects of PS-MPs on rice leaves obtained from the laboratory-scale experiments, a field-trial experiment was conducted. After 142 days of cultivation in farmland, the results with a maximum of 25.9% lower biomass in the crops exposed with PS-MPs. As such, the presence of PS-MPs may affect rice production by altering the metabolic systems of rice. Long-term exposure of PS-MPs to rice might be a potential risk to rice safety and quality. A deeper insight to investigate the potential metabolic response of rice to PS-MPs exposure, which may be the major source of the adverse effect of rice production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115159
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Metabolites disturbance
  • Microplastics
  • Polystyrene
  • Rice


Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolomics revealing the response of rice (Oryza sativa L.) exposed to polystyrene microplastics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this