Microplastics disturb the anthozoan-algae symbiotic relationship.Mar Pollut Bull. 2018 Oct; 135:83-89.MP
World production of plastic has dramatically increased from the 1950's and now it reaches approximately 311 million tons per year. The resulting accumulation of small plastic detritus less than 5 mm in size, termed "microplastics", has started threatening the life cycles of marine organisms. Here we show the first evidence that microplastics disturb the initiation of symbiotic relationships in anthozoan-algae symbiosis. We found in both the aposymbiotic sea-anemone Aiptasia sp. and the coral Favites chinensis that the infectivity of symbiotic algae into the host is severely suppressed by microspheres fed either directly or indirectly through microsphere-fed Artemia sp. Similar trends were seen when microplastics collected from commercial facewash were used instead of microspheres. Therefore, ongoing accumulation of microplastics in the ocean might disturb the healthy anthozoan-algae symbiotic relationships, which are cornerstones of the biologically enriched coral reef ecosystem.