Ecology

It's tough for life on a plastic planet

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  26 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6276, pp. 930-931
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6276.930-d

Microplastics threaten Pacific oysters

PHOTO:© ARTERRA PICTURE LIBRARY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

We dump an estimated 4 to 12 million tons of plastic waste into the oceans every year. This plastic breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastic particles, which can be ingested by marine life, causing unknown effects. To assess the impact of microplastic particles, Sussarellu et al. exposed Pacific oysters to polystyrene microspheres. The oysters efficiently ingested the microspheres but to ill effect. The microspheres interfered with their digestion and affected fecundity, lowering egg and sperms counts. Some negative effects also carried over to the next generation. Overall, their findings suggest that microplastic particles affected the oysters' ability to acquire and allocate energetic resources.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1519019113 (2016).

Navigate This Article