Oyster reproduction is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics
Plastics are a contaminant of emerging concern accumulating in marine ecosystems. Plastics tend to break down into small particles, called microplastics, which also enter the marine environment directly as fragments from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. Given their ubiquitous nature and small dimensions, the ingestion and impact of microplastics on marine life are a cause for concern, notably for filter feeders. Oysters were exposed to polystyrene microparticles, which were shown to interfere with energy uptake and allocation, reproduction, and offspring performance. A drop in energy allocation played a major role in this reproductive impairment. This study provides ground-breaking data on microplastic impacts in an invertebrate model, helping to predict ecological impact in marine ecosystems.