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Where are we? Towards an understanding of the selective accumulation of microplastics in mussels

Li, Jiana; Wang, Zhenglu; Rotchell, Jeanette M.; Shen, Xiaoteng; Li, Qipei; Zhu, Jingmin


Jiana Li

Zhenglu Wang

Xiaoteng Shen

Qipei Li

Jingmin Zhu


Mussels are suggested as bioindicators of marine microplastic pollution. However, they are selective in regards to accumulation of microplastics. To make studies more targeted and comparable, ultimately helping to determine the suitability of the mussel as a bioindicator species for microplastic exposure, we review the published literature that has directly or indirectly demonstrated particle selection in mussels. The reported difference between microplastic levels in mussel tissues and environmental matrices provides evidence for their selective uptake characteristics. Both the organ-specific fate characteristics of microplastics, and the different movement patterns of microplastics in the same organ, show that selective translocation processes take place. The selective elimination is reflected in multiple aspects which include (1) the different characteristics of microplastics in excretion and mussel body; (2) the different retention time of various microplastics in mussels; and (3) the tissue-specific change in the numbers of microplastics during the depuration process. This selectivity is affected by the characteristics of the microplastics, the environmental, or laboratory exposure concentrations, feeding status, and other factors. There are still many research gaps and contradictory viewpoints in this field due to this complexity. The current methodology needs improvement and a breakthrough in standardization.


Li, J., Wang, Z., Rotchell, J. M., Shen, X., Li, Q., & Zhu, J. (2021). Where are we? Towards an understanding of the selective accumulation of microplastics in mussels. Environmental pollution, 286,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 3, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 8, 2021
Publication Date Oct 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2022
Journal Environmental Pollution
Print ISSN 0269-7491
Electronic ISSN 1873-6424
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 286
Article Number 117543
Keywords Microplastic; Mussel; Fate; Selectivity; Translocation
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