A review on mechanistic understanding of microplastic pollution on the performance of anaerobic digestion

M. K. Manu, Liwen Luo, Reeti Kumar, Davidraj Johnravindar, Dongyi Li, Sunita Varjani, Jun Zhao, Jonathan Wong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic digestion (AD) has emerged as a promising technology for diverting the organic waste from the landfills along with the production of clean energy. AD is a microbial-driven biochemical process wherein the plethora of microbial communities participate in converting the putrescible organic matter into biogas. Nevertheless, the AD process is susceptible to the external environmental factors such as presence of physical (microplastics) and chemical (antibiotics, pesticides) pollutants. The microplastics (MPs) pollution has received recent attention due to the increasing plastic pollution in terrestrial ecosystems. This review was aimed for holistic assessment of impact of MPs pollution on AD process to develop efficient treatment technology. First, the possible pathways of MPs entry into the AD systems were critically evaluated. Further, the recent literature on the experimental studies pertaining to the impact of different types of MPs at different concentrations on the AD process was reviewed. In addition, several mechanisms such as direct exposure of MPs on the microbial cells, indirect impact of MPs through the leaching of toxic chemicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation on AD process were elucidated. Besides, the risk possessed by the increase of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) after the AD process due to the MPs stress on microbial communities were discussed. Overall, this review deciphered the severity of MPs pollution on AD process at different levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121426
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Microbial toxicity
  • Microplastics
  • Plastic leaching
  • Reactive oxygen species generation


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