Toxic effects of leachates from plastic pearl-farming gear on embryo-larval development in the pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera

Date of publication 22 June 2020

Authors Gardon, Tony; Huvet, Arnaud; Paul-Pont, Ika; Cassone, Anne-Laure; Sham Koua, Manaarii; Soyez, Claude; Jezequel, Ronan; Receveur, Justine; Le Moullac, Gilles.

Sources Water Research : 179, 115890 (2020).



Pearl-farming leads to significant plastic pollution in French Polynesia (FP) as the end of life of most farming gear is currently poorly managed. Plastic debris released into the aquatic environment accumulates, with potentially detrimental effects on the lagoon ecosystem and pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera, a species of ecological, commercial and social value. Here, we tested the effects of leachates from new (N) and aged (A) plastic pearl-farming gear (spat collector and synthetic rope) obtained after 24 h and 120 h incubation, on the embryo-larval development of the pearl oyster using an in-vitro assay. Embryos were exposed for 24 h and 48 h to a negative control (0) and the leachate from 0.1, 1, 10 and 100 g of plastic. L-1. After 24 h exposure to leachate at 100 g.L-1, effects were observed on embryo development (-38% to -60% of formed larvae) and mortality (+72% to +82%). Chemical analyses of plastic gear indicated the presence of 26 compounds, consisting of organic contaminants (PAHs) and additives (mainly phthalates). Screening of leachates demonstrated that these compounds leach into the surrounding seawater with an additional detection of pesticides. Higher levels of phthalates were measured in leachates obtained from new (6.7-9.1 μg.L-1) than from aged (0.4-0.5 μg.L-1) plastics, which could be part of the explanation of the clear difference in toxicity observed after 48 h exposure at lower concentrations (0.1-10 g.L-1), associated with mortality ranging from 26 to 86% and 17-28%, respectively. Overall, this study suggests that plastic gear used in the pearl-farming industry releases significant amounts of hazardous chemicals over their lifetime, which may affect pearl oyster development that call for in-situ exploration.

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