Histological observation of micro/nano-plastic spheres in the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis
Kyungil Park, June-Woo Park and JinSoo Choi
Department of Aquatic Life Medicine, College of Ocean Science and Technology, Kunsan National University; Gyeongnam Department of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Korea Institute of Toxicology
Microplastics discharged from human daily activities are not decomposed by sewage treatment but are introduced into the oceans through land-water systems, and are accumulated in filter-feeding bivalves. This study aimed to investigate microplastic accumulation in Mytilus galloprovincialis artificially exposed to microplastics. The mussels were exposed to fluorescent microplastics made of polypropylene (diameter of 53-63 μm) for 21 days at concentrations of 50 mg/L, 0.5 μg/L, and 0 μg/L. Microplastic distribution and concentration in mussel tissues were analyzed by histology and image processing, respectively. In our study, the microplastics used were partially decomposed into nano-sized particles during the experiment. Thus, two types of micro-particles were investigated in the present study: microplastics (φ < 5 mm) and nanoplastics (φ < 20 μm). Micro/nano-sized plastics were found only in the mussels exposed to the 50 mg/L concentration; the gill, stomach, stylus sac, secondary duct, and intestine of the mussels were the organs of accumulation. Pathological symptomssuch as hemocyte infiltration and digestive tubule atrophy were found around micro/nano-sized plastics, suggesting that these particles cause physiological disorders in mussels.
  
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