Developmental toxicity of plastic leachates on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus



Rendell-Bhatti F, Paganos P, Pouch A, Mitchell C, D’Aniello S, Godley BJ, Pazdro K, Arnone MI & Jimenez-Guri E (2021) Developmental toxicity of plastic leachates on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. Environmental Pollution, 269, Art. No.: 115744.

Microplastic pollution has become ubiquitous, affecting a wide variety of biota. Although microplastics are known to alter the development of a range of marine invertebrates, no studies provide a detailed morphological characterisation of the developmental defects. Likewise, the developmental toxicity of chemicals leached from plastic particles is understudied. The consequences of these developmental effects are likely underestimated, and the effects on ecosystems are unknown. Using the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus as a model, we studied the effects of leachates of three forms of plastic pellet: new industrial pre-production plastic nurdles, beached pre-production nurdles, and floating filters, known as biobeads, also retrieved from the environment. Our chemical analyses show that leachates from beached pellets (biobead and nurdle pellets) and highly plasticised industrial pellets (PVC) contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls, which are known to be detrimental to development and other life stages of animals. We also demonstrate that these microplastic leachates elicit severe, consistent and treatment-specific developmental abnormalities in P. lividus at embryonic and larval stages. Those embryos exposed to virgin polyethylene leachates with no additives nor environmental contaminants developed normally, suggesting that the abnormalities observed are the result of exposure to either environmentally adsorbed contaminants or pre-existing industrial additives within the polymer matrix. In the light of the chemical contents of the leachates and other characteristics of the plastic particles used, we discuss the phenotypes observed during our study, which include abnormal gastrulation, impaired skeletogenesis, abnormal neurogenesis, redistribution of pigmented cells and embryo radialisation.

Microplastic; Leachates; Ecotoxicology; Development; Sea urchin

Environmental Pollution: Volume 269

FundersNatural Environment Research Council and Horizon 2020 (Outputs)
Publication date15/01/2021
Publication date online03/10/2020
Date accepted by journal25/09/2020
PublisherElsevier BV

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Miss Flora Rendell-Bhatti

Miss Flora Rendell-Bhatti

PhD Researcher, Biological and Environmental Sciences