Diel pattern of microplastic residues in zebrafish

Cuizhu MA, Qiqing CHEN, Zhuo GAO, Yan YANG, Jinping CHENG, Huahong SHI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


As one of the emerging pollutants, microplastics (MPs) can be taken up by aquatic organisms through ingestion. However, little is known about the uptake pattern in organisms over time and the associated mechanisms of retention patterns. The present study aims to elucidate these patterns in fish, their relationship with light/dark conditions, and examine the uptake kinetic process of small-sized plastic pollutants, especially during the long-neglected dark period. Zebrafish were sampled every 2 h during the light and dark periods after exposure to an environmentally relevant concentration (100 items/L) of MPs. The results demonstrated that MP residues in zebrafish decreased during the dark period rather than increased over time. The MP retention rhythm and the swimming behavior of exposed zebrafish displayed a statistically significant light/dark variation. Moreover, a very strong and statistically significant positive correlation was found between the swimming speed of zebrafish and the number of MP residues in the gastrointestinal tracts of zebrafish. These results clearly demonstrate that fibrous MP residues in the fish have a discernible diel pattern. This work improves the understanding of the dynamic residual process of MPs in organisms and calls for further in-depth circadian toxicokinetic studies to better suit particle pollutants. Copyright © 2023 American Chemical Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16779-16787
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number44
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


Ma, C., Chen, Q., Gao, Z., Yang, Y., Cheng, J., & Shi, H. (2023). Diel pattern of microplastic residues in zebrafish. Environmental Science & Technology, 57(44), 16779-16787. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.3c04018


  • Diel cycle
  • Microplastic residues
  • Locomotor activity
  • Dark period
  • Organism behavior


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