Joppien, Marlena, Westphal, Hildegard ORCID:, Chandra, Viswasanthi, Stuhr, Marleen ORCID: and Doo, Steve ORCID: (2022) Nanoplastic incorporation into an organismal skeleton. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). p. 14771. DOI

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Studies on the effects of global marine plastic pollution have largely focused on physiological responses of few organism groups (e.g., corals, fishes). Here, we report the first observation of polymer nanoparticles being incorporated into the calcite skeleton of a large benthic foraminifera (LBF), a significant contributor to global carbonate production. While previous work on LBF has documented selectivity in feeding behaviour and a high degree of specialization regarding skeletal formation, in this study, abundant cases of nanoplastic encrustation into the calcite tests were observed. Nanoplastic incorporation was associated with formation of new chambers, in conjunction with rapid nanoplastic ingestion and subsequent incomplete egestion. Microalgae presence in nanoplastic treatments significantly increased the initial feeding response after 1 day, but regardless of microalgae presence, nanoplastic ingestion was similar after 6 weeks of chronic exposure. While ~ 40% of ingesting LBF expelled all nanoplastics from their cytoplasm, nanoplastics were still attached to the test surface and subsequently encrusted by calcite. These findings highlight the need for further investigation regarding plastic pollution impacts on calcifying organisms, e.g., the function of LBF as potential plastic sinks and alterations in structural integrity of LBF tests that will likely have larger ecosystem-level impacts on sediment production.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA3
Research affiliation: Affiliations > Not ZMT
Biogeochemistry and Geology > Geoecology & Carbonate Sedimentology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.:
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 16:22
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2022 16:22

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