Toxic effects of microplastic on marine microalgae Skeletonema costatum: Interactions between microplastic and algae

To investigate toxic effects of microplastic on marine microalgae Skeletonema costatum, both algal growth inhibition test and non-contact shading test were carried out, and algal photosynthesis parameters were also determined. The SEM images were used to observe interactions between microplastic and algae. It was found that microplastic (mPVC, average diameter 1 μm) had obvious inhibition on growth of microalgae and the maximum growth inhibition ratio (IR) reached up to 39.7% after 96 h exposure. However, plastic debris (bPVC, average diameter 1 mm) had no effects on growth of microalgae. High concentration (50 mg/L) mPVC also had negative effects on algal photosynthesis since both chlorophyll content and photosynthetic efficiency (ΦPSⅡ) decreased under mPVC treatments. Shading effect was not one reason for toxicity of microplastic on algae in this study. Compared with non-contact shading effect, interactions between microplastic and microalage such as adsorption and aggregation were more reasonable explanations for toxic effects of microplastic on marine microalgae. The SEM images provided a more direct and reasonable method to observe the behaviors of microplastic.

Cai Zhang, Xiaohua Chen, Jiangtao Wang, Liju Tan, Environmental Pollution, Volume 220, Part B, January 2017, Pages 1282–1288

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