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Research article2022Peer reviewed

Particles as carriers of matter in the aquatic environment: Challenges and ways ahead for transdisciplinary research

Thit, Amalie; Gronlund, Sara Nicoline; Trudso, Louise Lynn; Hansen, Benni Winding; Herzog, Simon David; Nielsen, Soren Laurentius; Oturai, Nikoline Garner; Posselt, Dorthe; Ramasamy, Praveen Kumar; Sandgaard, Monica Hamann; Syberg, Kristian; Selck, Henriette; Lyngsie, Gry


A diverse array of natural and anthropogenic particles found in the aquatic environment, can act as carriers of co-transported matter (CTM), such as nutrients, genetic material and contaminants. Thus, understanding carrier particle transport will increase our understanding of local and global fluxes of exogenous CTM (affiliated with the particle) and endogenous CTM (an inherent part of the particle). In the present contribution, researchers from multiple disciplines collaborated to provide perspectives on the interactions between carrier particles and CTM, and the fundamentals of transport of particles found in the aquatic environment and the generic spherical smooth particles, often used to make predictions about particle behavior in suspension. Evidently, the particles in the aquatic environment show a great variety of characteristics and vary greatly from each other as well as from the generic particle. However, in spite of these differences, many fundamental concepts apply to particles in general. We emphasize the importance of understanding the basic concepts of transport of particle-associated CTM, and the main assumptions in the generic-founded models, which are challenged by the diverging characteristics of particles found in the aquatic environment, as paramount moving forward. Additionally, we identified the need for a conceptual and semantic link between different scientific fields of particle research and initiated the formation of a consistent terminology. Disciplinary and organizational (academic and funding) barriers need to be overcome to enable individual researchers to move beyond their knowledge sphere, to stimulate future interdisciplinary collaborations and to avoid research silos. Hereby, we can foster faster and better progress of evolving research fields on new and emerging anthropogenic carrier particles, and stimulate the development of solutions to the technological and environmental challenges.


Vector effect; Environmental fate; Particle transport; Particle properties; Lessons learned; Particles as carriers; Aggregates; Sorption; Adsorption; Absorption; Minerals; Natural particles; Plastic particles; Rubber particles; Anthropogenic particles

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2022, Volume: 838, number: 2, article number: 155831
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
    SDG14 Life below water

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences
    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication identifier


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