We examined whether environmentally relevant concentrations of different types of microplastics, with or without PCBs, directly affect freshwater prey and indirectly affect their predators. Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea) were exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene, polyvinylchloride (PVC) or polystyrene with and without polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) for 28 days. Their predators, white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), were exposed to clams from each treatment for 28 days. In both species, we examined bioaccumulation of PCBs and effects (i.e., immunohistochemistry, histology, behavior, condition, mortality) across several levels of biological organization. PCBs were not detected in prey or predator, and thus differences in bioaccumulation of PCBs among polymers and biomagnification in predators could not be measured. One of the main objectives of this study was to test the hypothesis that bioaccumulation of PCBs would differ among polymer types. Because we could not answer this question experimentally, a bioaccumulation model was run and predicted that concentrations of PCBs in clams exposed to polyethylene and polystyrene would be greater than PET and PVC. Observed effects, although subtle, seemed to be due to microplastics rather than PCBs alone. For example, histopathology showed tubular dilation in clams exposed to microplastics with PCBs, with only mild effects in clams exposed to PCBs alone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)