On the horns of a dilemma: Evaluation of synthetic and natural textile microfibre effects on the physiology of the pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas

Fast fashion and our daily use of fibrous materials cause a massive release of microfibres (MF) into the oceans. Although MF pollution is commonly linked to plastics, the vast majority of collected MF are made from natural materials (e.g. cellulose). We investigated the effects of 96-h exposure to natural (wool, cotton, organic cotton) and synthetic (acrylic, nylon, polyester) textile MF and their associated chemical additives on the capacity of Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas to ingest MF and the effects of MF and their leachates on key molecular and cellular endpoints. Digestive and glycolytic enzyme activities and immune and detoxification responses were determined at cellular (haemocyte viability, ROS production, ABC pump activity) and molecular (Ikb1, Ikb2, caspase 1 and EcSOD expression) levels, considering environmentally relevant (10 MF L−1) and worst-case scenarios (10 000 MF L−1). Ingestion of natural MF perturbed oyster digestive and immune functions, but synthetic MF had few effects, supposedly related with fibers weaving rather than the material itself. No concentration effects were found, suggesting that an environmental dose of MF is sufficient to trigger these responses. Leachate exposure had minimal effects on oyster physiology. These results suggest that the manufacture of the fibres and their characteristics could be the major factors of MF toxicity and stress the need to consider both natural and synthetic particles and their leachates to thoroughly evaluate the impact of anthropogenic debris.

Environmental Implication.

Microfibres (MF) are omnipresent in the world oceans with around 2 million tons released every year, resulting in their ingestion by a wide array of marine organisms. In the ocean, a domination of natural MF- representing more than 80% of collected fibres-over synthetic ones was observed. Despite MF pervasiveness, research on their impact on marine organisms, is still in its infancy. The current study aims to investigate the effects of environmental concentrations of both synthetic and natural textile MF and their associated leachates on a model filter feeder.


Fast fashion, Textile microfibers, Exposure, Leachates, Oysters, Endpoint

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Détrée Camille, Labbé Clementine, Paul-Pont Ika, Prado Enora, El Rakwe Maria, Thomas Lena, Delorme Nicolas, Le Goic Nelly, Huvet Arnaud (2023). On the horns of a dilemma: Evaluation of synthetic and natural textile microfibre effects on the physiology of the pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Environmental Pollution. 331 (Part 2). 121861 (14p.). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2023.121861, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00839/95128/

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