alexa Microplastic ingestion decreases energy reserves in marine worms
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Journal of Pollution Effects & Control

Author(s): Stephanie L Wright, Darren Rowe, Richard C Thompson, Tamara S Galloway

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The indiscriminate disposal of plastic to the environment is of concern. Microscopic plastic litter (<5 mm diameter; ‘microplastic’) is increasing in abundance in the marine environment, originating from the fragmentation of plastic items and from industry and personal-care products [1]. On highly impacted beaches, microplastic concentrations (<1mm) can reach 3% by weight, presenting a global conservation issue [2]. Microplastics are a novel substrate for the adherence of hydrophobic contaminants [1], deposition of eggs [3], and colonization by unique bacterial assemblages [4]. Ingestion by indiscriminate deposit-feeders has been reported, yet physical impacts remain understudied [1]. Here, we show that deposit-feeding marine worms maintained in sediments spiked with microscopic unplasticised polyvinylchloride (UPVC) at concentrations overlapping those in the environment had significantly depleted energy reserves by up to 50% (Figure 1). Our results suggest that depleted energy reserves arise from a combination of reduced feeding activity, longer gut residence times of ingested material and inflammation.

This article was published in Current Biology and referenced in Journal of Pollution Effects & Control

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