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When microplastic is not plastic: the ingestion of artificial cellulose fibers by macrofauna living in seagrass macrophytodetritus
Remy, F.; Collard, F.; Gilbert, B.; Compère, P.; Eppe, G.; Lepoint, G. (2015). When microplastic is not plastic: the ingestion of artificial cellulose fibers by macrofauna living in seagrass macrophytodetritus. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49(18): 11158-11166. dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b02005
In: Environmental Science and Technology. American Chemical Society: Easton. ISSN 0013-936X; e-ISSN 1520-5851, meer
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  • Remy, F.
  • Collard, F.
  • Gilbert, B.
  • Compère, P.
  • Eppe, G.
  • Lepoint, G.

Abstract
    Dead leaves of the Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, in the Mediterranean coastal zone, are colonized by an abundant “detritivorous” invertebrate community that is heavily predated by fishes. This community was sampled in August 2011, November 2011, and March 2012 at two different sites in the Calvi Bay (Corsica). Ingested artificial fibers (AFs) of various sizes and colors were found in 27.6% of the digestive tracts of the nine dominant species regardless of their trophic level or taxon. No seasonal, spatial, size, or species-specific significant differences were revealed; suggesting that invertebrates ingest AFs at constant rates. Results showed that, in the gut contents of invertebrates, varying by trophic level, and across trophic levels, the overall ingestion of AFs was low (approximately 1 fiber per organism). Raman spectroscopy revealed that the ingested AFs were composed of viscose, an artificial, cellulose-based polymer. Most of these AFs also appeared to have been colored by industrial dyes. Two dyes were identified: Direct Blue 22 and Direct Red 28. The latter is known for being carcinogenic for vertebrates, potentially causing environmental problems for the P. oceanica litter community. Techniques such as Raman spectroscopy are necessary to investigate the particles composition, instead of relying on fragment size or color to identify the particles ingested by animals.

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