Plastiphily is linked to generic virulence traits of important human pathogenic fungi

authored by
Gerasimos Gkoutselis, Stephan Rohrbach, Janno Harjes, Andreas Brachmann, Marcus A. Horn, Gerhard Rambold

Fungi comprise relevant human pathogens, causing over a billion infections each year. Plastic pollution alters niches of fungi by providing trillions of artificial microhabitats, mostly in the form of microplastics, where pathogens might accumulate, thrive, and evolve. However, interactions between fungi and microplastics in nature are largely unexplored. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the assembly, architecture, and ecology of mycobiomes in soil (micro)plastispheres near human dwellings in a model- and network-based metagenome study combined with a global-scale trait data annotation. Our results reveal a strong selection of important human pathogens, in an idiosyncratic, otherwise predominantly neutrally assembled plastisphere, which is strongly linked to generic fungal virulence traits. These findings substantiate our niche expansion postulate, demonstrate the emergence of plastiphily among fungal pathogens and imply the existence of a plastisphere virulence school, underpinning the need to declare microplastics as a factor of global health.

Institute of Microbiology
External Organisation(s)
University of Bayreuth
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
Communications Earth and Environment
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Environmental Science(all), Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)