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Bivalve molluscs as historical sentinels of microplastic contamination

Grant number: 23/05277-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2023
Effective date (End): December 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Oceanography - Biological Oceanography
Principal Investigator:Ítalo Braga de Castro
Grantee:Thaiza Maria Avelino Soares
Host Institution: Instituto do Mar (IMar). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Baixada Santista. Santos , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Anthropogenic interventions associated with natural events have induced important changes along 3.56 million km2 of the Brazilian coast. In this regard, the contamination by hazardous chemical substances and solid waste in marine and coastal environments plays an essential role in the degradation processes observed contemporaneously. It is estimated that by 2025 60-80% of all waste released in the marine environment will be plastic polymers. Therefore, a substantial part of these materials will give rise to nano and micro plastics (MPs), which have been recognized as one of the greatest environmental stressors of our time, affecting different levels of biological organization. Invertebrate organisms, especially filter-feeding bivalves, present a high degree of interaction with these particles, being scientifically recognized as excellent sentinels of the occurrence of these residues in aquatic ecosystems. This type of approach, when applied to biological material collected in the past, and stored in scientific collections, can allow historical reconstructions of contamination levels. Based on these scenarios, the present proposal aims to temporally analyze the occurrence of MPs in tissues of bivalve molluscs. Therefore, different parameters including the incidence of MPs in soft tissues as well as aspects related to shape, size, polymer composition and colors will be evaluated at different times in the past (samples from zoological collections). Thus, it will be possible to reconstruct historically the MPs contamination in areas of the Brazilian coast for which there are bivalve molluscs preserved in zoological collections. Additionally, it will be possible to identify more suitable sentinels for environmental assessments of contamination by MPs in the varied conditions of the Brazilian coast.

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