Stakeholder Meeting Microplastics Marin

Topics: Immune system, Mollusca, Marine biology Pages: 15 (595 words) Published: December 3, 2014
MICRO meeting
Ostend, September 2014
Impacts of microplastics
in marine life

©Crown copyright 2012, permission granted by Thomas Maes, Cefas

3 main questions
• Are microplastic particules ingested by marine organisms?

• What are their fate in the body?

• What are their main impacts on marine life?

Are microplastics (MP)
• Articles showed ingestion of large items of plastic and
MP in vertebrate species (fish, birds, marine
• Small size of MP, universal presence, behavior near of
marine plankton, ingestion of MP was recently
observed in numerous invertebrates: zooplankton,
annelids, echinoderms, crustaceans, amphipods,
bivalves (among larvae, juveniles and adults).
2 mm

Cole et al., 2013

Frere, 2014

Are microplastics
• Direct ingestion
Filtration of free MP particles, or adhered on food source such as algae Dependent on size, nature, shape

Fluorescent MP stuck on micro-algae

Fluorescent MP ingestion dependent on size (oysters):
20% 2µm
85% 6 µm

Are microplastics
• Through trophic transfer
Producers – Consumers (herbivores, carnivores) – Predator – Decomposers

MICRO project:

Trophic contamination of starfish fed
with mussels exposed to MP for 24h

 Human consumption of seafood products?

What are their fate
in the body?
• Whether these particles are excreted, bioaccumulated or
translocated depending of the type of plastic (nature, shape, size)?

Large items known to easily accumulate and clog the digestive tract

What are their fate
in the body?
MICRO : Exposures of MP to fish (seabass) and bivalves (oysters/ mussels) > Most of ingested beads ended in feces
Digestive tract

+2 days


43 dph

Fluorescent MP in digestive tract of fish larvae
45 dph

Fluorescent MP in oyster

> High potential of excretion of PS or PE beads [2-45 µm] in sea bass larvae, mussels and oysters in few days (2 in fish & crabs, 4 in bivalves)

> Spherical smooth shape ≠ plastic fragments, fibers, sheets, etc.

What are their fate
in the body?
• Translocation: MP can pass through cell membranes and become incorporated into body tissues

Translocation processes dependent on particles shape, charge and size

What are impacts
in marine life?
• Digestive effects:
– Feeding rate higher for MP exposed oysters (+4%)
– Absorption efficiency +11% (as observed with silt)

What are impacts
in marine life?
Effects on the immune system
Deleterious effects on cells involved in the immune defenses in bivalves (hemocytes): - Higher hemocyte mortality
- Modification of the phagocytosis rate and capacity
- Disruption of the oxidative balance

Survival of European sea bass larvae (ingestion of high PE microbead concentration)


fluorescent microbeads
per gram of diet

What are impacts
in marine life?
Strong negative impacts on oyster reproduction:
number of oocytes produced -38%
Oocyte relative size -8%

-23% of sperm movement speed
-41% hatching rate estimated 48h post fertilization, for larvae produced from gametes collected in female exposed oysters

What are impacts
in marine life?
Consequences for next generations…
Larvae produced from exposed females:
-20% larval growth, 6 days-lag for settlement

Experimental exposition higher than in marine environment
 Current studies using environmentally relevant concentrations show inconclusive results so far…

Take home messages
• Microplastics are efficiently ingested by a wide range of marine organisms
• Spherical microplastics are mostly excrected in feces within a few days
• Impacts were observed on major physiological functions such as digestion, immunity, reproduction and growth when exposed to high concentrations in lab conditions

• Set up experiment with different types of MP: fragments, fibers, sheets, spheres (PE, PS, PVC, PET)
• More environmentally relevant...
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