Impact of polyester and cotton microfibers on growth and sublethal biomarkers in juvenile mussels

Walkinshaw, C, Tolhurst, TJ, Lindeque, PK, Thompson, RC and Cole, MJ 2023 Impact of polyester and cotton microfibers on growth and sublethal biomarkers in juvenile mussels. Microplastics and Nanoplastics, 3 (1).

Walkinshaw et al (2023) M&N.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


Anthropogenic microfibres are a prevalent, persistent and globally distributed form of marine debris. Evidence of microfibre ingestion has been demonstrated in a range of organisms, including Mytilus spp. (mussels), but the extent of any impacts on these organisms are poorly understood. This study investigates, for the first time, the effect of exposing juvenile mussels to polyester and cotton microfibres at environmentally relevant concentrations (both current and predicted future scenarios) over a chronic timescale (94 days). Sublethal biomarkers included growth rate, respiration rate and clearance rate. Mussels were exposed to polyester (median length 149 µm) and cotton (median length 132 µm) microfibres in three treatments: polyester (~ 8 fibres L−1), polyester (~ 80 fibres L−1) and cotton (~ 80 fibres L−1). Mussels exposed to 80 polyester or cotton microfibres L−1 exhibited a decrease in growth rate of 35.6% (polyester) and 18.7% (cotton), with mussels exposed to ~ 80 polyester microfibres L−1 having a significantly lower growth rate than the control population (P < 0.05). This study demonstrates that polyester microfibres have the potential to adversely impact upon mussel growth rates in realistic future scenarios, which may have compounding effects throughout the marine ecosystem and implications for commercial viability.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Additional Keywords: Microfibre; Microplastic; Shellfish; Mytilus; Chronic exposure
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 28 Feb 2023 15:25
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2023 15:25

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item