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Using mussel as a global bioindicator of coastal microplastic pollution

Li, Jiana; Lusher, Amy L.; Rotchell, Jeanette M.; Deudero, Salud; Turra, Alexander; Bråte, Inger Lise N.; Sun, Chengjun; Shahadat Hossain, M.; Li, Qipei; Kolandhasamy, Prabhu; Shi, Huahong


Jiana Li

Amy L. Lusher

Salud Deudero

Alexander Turra

Inger Lise N. Bråte

Chengjun Sun

M. Shahadat Hossain

Qipei Li

Prabhu Kolandhasamy

Huahong Shi


The ubiquity and high bioavailability of microplastics have an unknown risk on the marine environment. Bio-monitoring should be used to investigate biotic impacts of microplastic exposure. While many studies have used mussels as indicators for marine microplastic pollution, a robust and clear justification for their selection as indicator species is still lacking. Here, we review published literature from field investigations and laboratory experiments on microplastics in mussels and critically discuss the suitability and challenges of mussels as sentinel organisms for microplastic pollution. Mussels are suitable sentinel organisms for microplastic pollution because of their wide distribution, vital ecological niches, susceptibility to microplastic uptake and close connection with marine predators and human health. Field investigations highlight a wide occurrence of mi-croplastics in mussels from all over the world, yet their abundance varies enormously. Problematically, these studies are not comparable due to the lack of a standardized approach, as well as temporal and spatial variability. Interestingly, microplastic abundance in field-collected mussels is closely related to human activity, and there is evidence for a positive and quantitative correlation between microplastics in mussels and surrounding waters. Laboratory studies collectively demonstrate that mussels may be good model organisms in revealing microplastic uptake, accumulation and toxicity. Consequently, we propose the use of mussels as target species to monitor microplastics and call for a uniform, efficient and economical approach that is suitable for a future large-scale monitoring program.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Journal Environmental Pollution
Electronic ISSN 1873-6424
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 244
Pages 522-533
APA6 Citation Li, J., Lusher, A. L., Rotchell, J. M., Deudero, S., Turra, A., Bråte, I. L. N., …Shi, H. (2019). Using mussel as a global bioindicator of coastal microplastic pollution. Environmental Pollution, 244, 522-533. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2018.10.032
Keywords Toxicology; Pollution; Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis; General Medicine
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Copyright Statement
© 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

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