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PLASTOX: Direct and indirect ecotoxicological impacts of microplastics on marine organisms


The PLASTOX project will investigate the ingestion, foodweb transfer, and ecotoxicological impact of microplastics (MPs), together with persistent organic pollutants (POPs), metals and plastic additive chemicals, on key European marine species and ecosystems. It will also study the temporal dynamics of MP colonisation by microbial communities and the influence of microbial biofilms on ingestion rates and POP toxicity. The influence of MPs physicochemical properties (size, shape, surface area and composition) on these processes will be evaluated. To study the ecological effects of MPs, laboratory tests and mesocosm studies will be combined with field-based observations and manipulative field experiments at stations representing a wide range of European marine environments (Mediterranean, Adriatic, North, and Baltic Seas and the Atlantic). The project will bridge the current gap between laboratory assessment using commercially available feedstock MPs and the additive/pollutant-loaded MPs that dominate the marine environment. To achieve this, macro-sized plastic debris collected from the marine environment will be milled into MPs derived from real marine litter.

Adsorption and desorption behaviour of organic and inorganic pollutants to MPs will be investigated using a range of common POP and metal contaminants, identifying which physicochemical properties are most influential. Uptake through ingestion and other routes will be investigated, and attempts made to quantify MP accumulation in marine organism tissues using state of the art analytical approaches. Acute and sublethal ecotoxicological effects of MPs will be assessed on marine organisms from phyto- and zooplankton to (shell)fish and seabirds, representative of the full range of economically important marine living resources in the EU. PLASTOX will culminate in a series of experiments bringing together the knowledge generated about MPs and POPs/metals to study the combined fate and effects of these marine contaminants in food web studies.




  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 257479




  • Andrew Booth
  • Kaori Sakaguchi-Söder
  • Paula Sobral
  • Laura Airoldi
  • Richard Sempere
  • J A van Franeker
  • Kerstin Magnusson
  • Thomas Doyle
  • Liam Morrison
  • Iurgi Imanol Salaverria-Zabalegui
  • Carl Van Colen
  • Dorte Herzke
  • Amaia Orbea
  • Geir W. Gabrielsen
  • Hartmut Nies
  • Tamara S. Galloway
  • Albert van Oyen


  • SINTEF Ocean / Climate and Environment
  • Unknown
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research
  • The University Centre in Svalbard

Presented at

MICRO 2016




25.05.2016 - 27.05.2016



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