The toxic effects of polystyrene microplastics on freshwater algae Chlorella pyrenoidosa depends on the different size of polystyrene microplastics.Chemosphere. 2022 Dec; 308(Pt 1):136135.C
Microplastics (MPs) are persistent environmental contaminants. The toxic effects of MPs on aquatic organisms have raised increasing concerns, but their toxic effects on aquatic phytoplankton has not been thoroughly investigated. In the present study, the toxic effects of two sizes MPs (1 μm and 5 μm) on Chlorella pyrenoidosa at 2, 10, 50 mg/L were explored for 1, 5, 10 days. The growth ratio, photosynthetic pigments content, extracellular polymeric substances content, soluble protein content, MDA content and relative expression of genes related to photosynthesis and energy metabolism were measured. These results indicated that 1 μm MP could significantly inhibit the growth of C. pyrenoidosa. Compared with the control group, 1 μm MP significantly reduced the photosynthetic pigment content, induced oxidative stress and disrupted the cell membrane integrity of C. pyrenoidosa. At the molecular level, 1 μm MP altered the transcript levels of genes related to photosynthesis and energy metabolism. Scanning electron microscopy and fluorescent images showed that MPs aggregation with C. pyrenoidosa may be the main reason for the toxic effects of MPs. These results will provide new insight into the toxicity of different MPs on aquatic phytoplankton, and evaluate the risks caused by MPs in aquatic environments.