Study of the ageing and the sorption of polyaromatic hydrocarbons as influencing factors on the effects of microplastics on blue mussel


  • Moncrieffe Romaric
  • Masry Maria
  • Cai Binbin
  • Rossignol Stéphanie
  • Kamari Abderrahmane
  • Poirier Laurence
  • Bertrand Samuel
  • Wong-Wah-Chung Pascal
  • Zalouk-Vergnoux Aurore


  • Polyethylene
  • PAH
  • Weathering
  • Blue mussel
  • Biomarkers
  • Lipidomics

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The mussels are species with high socioeconomic weights and are often used as bioindicators of biological and chemical contamination. In the field and aquaculture, they can intake microplastics during filter-feeding, and the microplastics can have a negative impact on their health, even at low concentrations. The effects of microplastics have yet to be fully examined on the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), considering the factors of ageing and sorption of some polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), ubiquitous environmental contaminants. In this work, 5 different exposure conditions were studied: pristine microplastics, microplastics aged for 1000 days under UV radiation, microplastics sorbing PAHs, as well as microplastics both aged and sorbing PAHs, in parallel to controls. The microplastic changes after ageing were studied with spectroscopic and chromatographic methods. Then, 8-day laboratory exposures of mussels at 10 µg/L of microplastics were performed. The oxidative stress, as well as neurotoxic and immunological responses of M. edulis, were measured using a battery of biomarkers (catalase/CAT, superoxide dismutase/SOD, glutathione S-transferases/GST, acetylcholinesterase/AChE) in 3 different organs (digestive gland, gills and mantle), and acid phosphatase in hemolymph. Then, a study of lipid impairments on the digestive gland was performed through the use of lipidomic tools. No significant difference of oxidative stress activity was observed for all the tissues of mussels exposed to pristine microplastics at 10 µg/L, compared to controls. The ageing and the PAH soption onto microplastics were influencing factors of the oxydative stress in mussels with increased CAT activities in the digestive glands and decreased SOD activities in the mantles. The neurotoxicity was highlighted by higher AChE activities measured in the mantle of mussels exposed to all the microplastic treatments, compared to controls. Concerning lipidomics, no compound was determined as a biomarker of microplastic exposure. The study demonstrated a low toxicity of microplastics at environmental relevant concentration with a 8day exposure and using the chosen biomarkers. However, some microplastic changes seemed to lead to specific effects on mussels.

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