Bioaccumulation of microplastics and its in vivo interactions with trace metals in edible oysters

Xiaotong ZHU, Liyuan QIANG, Huahong SHI, Jinping CHENG

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67 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics have been an emerging threat to marine environments and marine life. Oysters as seafood are popular worldwide, yet also a high-risk group to accumulate pollutants due to their filter-feeding nature. In this study, edible oysters were collected from Yantai, a coastal city in China, to study the uptake, accumulation and translocation of microplastics in marine life, as well as their in vivo interactions with other persistent pollutants. Microplastics were found in all of the studied oyster tissue samples with an average concentration around 4.53 items/g wet weight (24.49 items/g dry weight). Microplastics were mainly translocated and distributed in the gills and mantle of the studied oysters in the form of fibers. The detected microplastics in the oysters were mostly cellophane and polyester as identified by the micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscope. Cellophane tends to accumulate in gills, mantle and muscle while polyester tends to accumulate in digestive glands of the studied oysters. Excessive concentrations of trace metals (30.484, 4.415, 0.395 and 181.044 μg/g dry weight of Cr, Cd, Pb and Cu, respectively) were detected in the studied oysters using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Trace metals of Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb were found to be adsorbed on the surface of microplastics isolated from the oysters. There was a correlation between the in vivo concentration of microplastics and the in vivo concentration of four trace metals: Cd, Cr, Cu and Pb, which suggests potential in vivo interactions between microplastics and trace metals. This study can help to understand the impacts of microplastics and their joint toxicity with other pollutants on marine life, especially on aquaculture seafood. This study will be an important reference for the assessment of health risks associated with consumption of edible coastal oysters in China. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111079
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date29 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


Zhu, X., Qiang, L., Shi, H., & Cheng, J. (2020). Bioaccumulation of microplastics and its in vivo interactions with trace metals in edible oysters. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 154. Retrieved from


  • Microplastics
  • Oyster
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Translocation
  • Trace metals
  • In vivo interactions


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