A new study shows that microplastics affect the ability of mussels to adhere to the environment, potentially having a devastating effect on ocean ecosystems, as well as on global industry valued between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion a year.
New research published in the journal Environmental pollutionled by Dr. Dannielle Green of the University of England Ruskin and conducted in the Portaferry Marine Laboratory in Northern Ireland
The researchers found that blue mussels, exposed to doses of biodegradable microplastics for 52 days, produce significantly fewer byssus filaments, which are fine fibers that help the mussels attach to stones and ropes.
Along with the fact that mussels can survive waves and strong tides and remain attached to the environment, these descending threads also allow them to form extensive reefs that provide important habitats for other marine animals and plants.
The study also showed that the total tensile strength or the attachment strength of mussels exposed to microplastics, calculated by measuring the maximum vertical force required to displace the mussel from its position, fell by 50% compared to the control sample of mussels that were not exposed to exposure. microplastics
And to understand the potential effects of microplastic on the health of mussels, researchers measured proteins in muscular blood fluid or hemolymph, which performs a function similar to blood. This showed that microplastics elicited a strong immune response, as well as influencing mussel metabolism.
Dr. Green, a senior biology professor at the University of England Raskin, said: “Persistence is vital for mussels to form and maintain reefs without shifting hydrodynamic forces. Our study showed that the presence of non-biodegradable microplastics reduced the number of bissalia filaments produced by mussels, which probably explains the 50% reduction in their strength.
“A braided thread helps mussels form flocks, increasing fertilization success and making mussels more resistant to predation. Reducing these downstream flows in the wild can lead to a cascading impact on biodiversity, as well as lower yields from aquaculture, because mussels are more likely to be washed away by waves or strong tides.
“Our study also shows that even biodegradable microplastics can affect mussel health. Both biodegradable and non-biodegradable plastics are used in the production of disposable packaging, which, if it becomes garbage, can break up into microplastic materials. Better recycling and overall reduction These materials can play an important role in protecting our marine environment. ”
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Materials provided by University of England Ruskin, Note: Content can be edited in style and length.