Microplastics Affect Energy Balance and Gametogenesis in the Pearl Oyster Pinctada margaritifera

Plastic pollution in the environment is increasing at global scale. Microplastics (MP) are derived from degradation of larger plastic items or directly produced in microparticles form (<5 mm). Plastics, widely used in structures and equipments of pearl farming, are a source of pollution to the detriment of the lagoon ecosystem. In order to evaluate the impact of MP on the physiology of Pinctada margaritifera, a species of ecological and commercial interests, adult oysters were exposed to polystyrene microbeads (micro-PS of 6 and 10 μm) for 2 months. Three concentrations were tested: 0.25, 2.5, 25 μg L-1 and a control. Ingestion and respiration rate and assimilation efficiency were monitored on a metabolic measurement system to determine the individual energy balance (Scope For Growth, SFG). Effects on reproduction were also assessed. The assimilation efficiency decreased significantly according to micro-PS concentration. The SFG was significantly impacted by a dose-dependent decrease from 0.25 μg L-1 (p < 0.0001). A negative SFG was measured in oysters exposed to 25 μg L-1. Gonads may have provided the missing energy to maintain animals’ metabolism through the production of metabolites derived from germ cells phagocytosis. This study shows that micro-PS significantly impact the assimilation efficiency and more broadly the energy balance of P. margaritifera, with negative repercussions on reproduction.

Tony Gardon, Céline Reisser, Claude Soyez, Virgile Quillien, and Gilles Le Moullac, Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript, April 5, 2018

Environmentally relevant microplastic exposure affects sediment-dwelling bivalves

Most microplastics are expected to sink and end up in marine sediments. However, very little is known concerning their potential impact on sediment-dwelling organisms. We studied the long-term impact of microplastic exposure on two sediment-dwelling bivalve species. Ennucula tenuis and Abra nitida were exposed to polyethylene microparticles at three concentrations (1; 10 and 25 mg/kg of sediment) for four weeks. Three size classes (4–6; 20–25 and 125–500 μm) were used to study the influence of size on microplastic ecotoxicity. Microplastic exposure did not affect survival, condition index or burrowing behaviour in either bivalve species. However, significant changes in energy reserves were observed. No changes were observed in protein, carbohydrate or lipid contents in E. tenuis, with the exception of a decrease in lipid content for one condition. However, total energy decreased in a dose-dependent manner for bivalves exposed to the largest particles. To the contrary, no significant changes in total energy were observed for A. nitida, although a significant decrease of protein content was observed for individuals exposed to the largest particles, at all concentrations. Concentration and particle size significantly influenced microplastic impacts on bivalves, the largest particles and higher concentrations leading to more severe effects. Several hypotheses are presented to explain the observed modulation of energy reserves, including the influence of microplastic size and concentration. Our results suggest that long-term exposure to microplastics at environmentally relevant concentrations can impact marine benthic biota.

Agathe Bour, Ane Haarr, Steffen Keiter, Ketil Hylland and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 236, May 2018, Pages 652–660

The article

Microplastics in oysters Saccostrea cucullata along the Pearl River Estuary, China

As a transitional zone between riverine and marine environments, an estuary plays an important role for the sources, accumulation and transport of microplastics. Although estuarine environments are hotspots of microplastic pollution, the correlation between microplastic pollution and aquatic organisms is less known. Here we investigated microplastic pollution in wild oysters Saccostrea cucullata from 11 sampling sites along the Pearl River Estuary in South China. The microplastic abundances in oysters ranged from 1.4 to 7.0 items per individual or from 1.5 to 7.2 items per gram tissue wet weight, which were positively related to those in surrounding waters. The oysters near urban areas contained significantly more microplastics than those near rural areas. Fibers accounted for 69.4% of the total microplastics in oysters. Microplastic sizes varied from 20 to 5000 μm and 83.9% of which were less than 100 μm. Light color microplastics were significantly more common than dark color ones. Based on the results, oysters are recommended as a biomonitor for the microplastic pollution in estuaries.

Heng-Xiang Li, Li-Sha Ma, Lang Lin and al., Environmental Pollution, Volume 236, May 2018, Pages 619–625

The article

Quantity and types of microplastics in the organic tissues of the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica and Atlantic mud crab Panopeus herbstii from a Florida estuary

This study determined the quantity and diversity of microplastics in water and soft tissues of eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and Atlantic mud crabs (Panopeus herbstii) in Mosquito Lagoon, a shallow, microtidal estuary along the east coast of central Florida. One-liter water samples had an average of 23.1 microplastic pieces (n = 15). Crabs (n = 90) had an average of 4.2 pieces in tissues/individual plus an average of 20.3 pieces/individual temporarily entangled in exposed surfaces and released within 5 days in tanks. Adult oysters (n = 90) had an average of 16.5 microplastic pieces/individual. Fibers, mostly royal/dark blue in color, dominated our collections. When compared per gram of tissue, crabs had two orders of magnitude more microplastic pieces than oysters. Our numbers were higher than previous studies on invertebrate microplastics; this is potentially the result of extensive urbanization, limited flushing, and intensive recreational usage of Mosquito Lagoon.

Heidi R. Waite, Melinda J. Donnelly, Linda J. Walters, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 129, Issue 1, April 2018, Pages 179–185

The article

Factors influencing the microplastic contamination of bivalves from the French Atlantic coast: Location, season and/or mode of life?

Monitoring the presence of microplastics (MP) in marine organisms is currently of high importance. This paper presents the qualitative and quantitative MP contamination of two bivalves from the French Atlantic coasts: the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Three factors potentially influencing the contamination were investigated by collecting at different sampling sites and different seasons, organisms both wild and cultivated. Inter- and intra-species comparisons were also achieved. MP quantity in organisms was evaluated at 0.61 ± 0.56 and 2.1 ± 1.7 MP per individual respectively for mussels and oysters. Eight different polymers were identified. Most of the MPs were fragments; about a half of MPs were grey colored and a half with a size ranging from 50 to 100 μm for both studied species. Some inter-specific differences were found but no evidence for sampling site, season or mode of life effect was highlighted.

Nam Ngoc Phuong, Laurence Poirier, Quoc Tuan Pham, Fabienne Lagarde, atlAurore Zalouk-Vergnoux, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 26 October 2017, In Press

The article

Microplastics en route: Field measurements in the Dutch river delta and Amsterdam canals, wastewater treatment plants, North Sea sediments and biota

Environmental contamination by plastic particles, also known as ‘microplastics’, brings synthetic materials that are non-degradable and biologically incompatible into contact with ecosystems. In this paper we present concentration data for this emerging contaminant in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and freshwater and marine systems, reflecting the routes via which these particles can travel and the ecosystems they potentially impact along their path. Raw sewage influents, effluents and sewage sludge from seven municipal WWTPs in the Netherlands contained mean particle concentrations of 68–910 L− 1, 51–81 L− 1 and 510–760 kg− 1 wet weight (ww), respectively (particle sizes between 10 and 5000 μm). Even after treatment, wastewater constitutes a source of microplastic pollution of surface waters, and via biosolids applications in farming and forestry, plastic retained in sewage sludge can be transferred to terrestrial environments. The WWTPs investigated here had a mean microplastics retention efficiency of 72% (s.d. 61%) in the sewage sludge. In the receiving waters of treated and untreated wastewaters, we detected high microplastic levels in riverine suspended particulate matter (1400–4900 kg− 1 dry weight (dw)) from the Rhine and Meuse rivers. Amsterdam canal water sampled at different urban locations contained microplastic concentrations (48–187 L− 1), similar to those observed in wastewater that is emitted from sewage treatment facilities in the area. At least partial settling of the particles occurs in freshwater as well, as indicated by microplastics in urban canal sediments (< 68 to 10,500 particles kg− 1 dw). Microplastics in suspension in the water column have the potential to be discharged into the sea with other riverine suspended particulates. We report microplastic concentrations from 100 up to 3600 particles kg− 1 dry sediment collected at 15 locations along the Dutch North Sea coast. The high microplastic enrichment in marine sediments compared to most literature data for seawater at the surface supports the hypothesis of a seabed sink for these materials. Marine species are heavily exposed to plastic particles. Body residues between 10 and 100 particles g− 1 dw were measured in benthic macroinvertebrate species inhabiting the Dutch North Sea coast: filter-feeding mussels and oysters (species for human consumption) as well as other consumers in the marine food chain.

H.A. Leslie, S.H. Brandsma, M.J.M. van Velzen, A.D. Vethaak, Environment International, Available Environment International, Volume 101, April 2017, Pages 133–142

The article

Microplastics Affect the Ecological Functioning of an Important Biogenic Habitat

Biological effects of microplastics on the health of bivalves have been demonstrated elsewhere, but ecological impacts on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of bivalve-dominated habitats are unknown. Thus, we exposed intact sediment cores containing European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis) or blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) in seawater to two different densities (2.5 or 25 μg L–1) of biodegradable or conventional microplastics in outdoor mesocosms. We hypothesized that filtration rates of the bivalves, inorganic nitrogen cycling, primary productivity of sediment dwelling microphytobenthos, and the structure of invertebrate benthic assemblages would be influenced by microplastics. After 50 days, filtration by M. edulis was significantly less when exposed to 25 μg L–1 of either type of microplastics, but there were no effects on ecosystem functioning or the associated invertebrate assemblages. Contrastingly, filtration by O. edulis significantly increased when exposed to 2.5 or 25 μg L–1 of microplastics, and porewater ammonium and biomass of benthic cyanobacteria decreased. Additionally the associated infaunal invertebrate assemblages differed, with significantly less polychaetes and more oligochaetes in treatments exposed to microplastics. These findings highlight the potential of microplastics to impact the functioning and structure of sedimentary habitats and show that such effects may depend on the dominant bivalve present.

Dannielle Senga Green, Bas Boots, Nessa E. O’Connor, and Richard Thompson, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (1), pp 68–77