Effects of microplastics on the growth, photosynthetic efficiency and nutrient composition in freshwater algae Chlorella vulgaris Beij.Aquat Toxicol. 2023 Aug; 261:106615.AT
Microplastics, plastic particles and fragments smaller than 5 mm are ubiquitous in various aquatic environments, but the hazards of microplastics with different particle sizes, concentrations and materials are not well understood. This study investigated the toxicity of polyethylene microplastics (PE-MPs) with different concentrations and particle sizes or polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs) on freshwater algae Chlorella vulgaris Beij (C. vulgaris) for 11 days. Results indicated that the growth, colony formation, photosynthetic pigment contents and soluble intracellular polysaccharides were unaffected, whereas the photosynthetic efficiency and the total soluble protein (TSP) contents were remarkably decreased at 11 d with the increased concentration of PE-MP exposure. The growth, photosynthetic efficiency, soluble intracellular polysaccharides and TSP contents were unaffected after exposure to PE-MPs with different particle sizes or PS-MPs. By contrast, the colony formation and photosynthetic pigment contents were remarkably decreased after exposure to PS-MPs compared with the control or PE-MPs with the same particle size. The C. vulgaris colonization on microplastics was proven by scanning electron microscopy, indicating that the adsorption effects were the main harmful pathways of different microplastics to algal. Our results suggested that microplastics have limited harmful effects on algae, mainly in adsorption and shading.