Review Article | Volume 11, Issue 1, January, 2023

Detrimental effects of microplastics in aquatic fauna on marine and freshwater environments – A comprehensive review

Irene Monica Jaikumar Majesh Tomson Manikantan Pappuswamy Krishnakumar V Anushka Shitut Arun Meyyazhagan Balamuralikrishnan Balasubramnaian Vijaya Anand Arumugam   

Open Access   

Published:  Nov 22, 2022

DOI: 10.7324/JABB.2023.110104

The world is ever evolving and new technologies are popping up everywhere. New inventions and discoveries have created a better world, but not a sustainable one. The whole earth is drowning in various pollutants and garbage. Plastic pollution has garnered sufficient attention and there are various teams and organizations working toward cleaning our beaches, parks, and environment. However, all these actions will not suffice as plastics have trickled down into microplastics, which are posing a greater threat to our water systems and aquatic fauna. Several ongoing researches focus on marine microplastics, while only 13% of studies are on freshwater. Research on microplastics is now on the rise, with new strategies and restrictions being put into place to curb its accumulation in our marine and freshwater environments. In a recent study, microplastics were found to be present in human blood with. Out of 22 people tested, 17 test subjects had microplastics present in their blood. This review focuses on the adverse effects of microplastics in marine and freshwater ecosystems, with special focus on aquatic fauna.

Keyword:     Freshwater Marine pollutant Marine Microplastics Toxicity


Jaikumar IM, Tomson M, Pappuswamy M, Krishnakumar V, Shitut A, Meyyazhagan A, Balasubramnaian B, Arumugam VA. Detrimental effects of microplastics in aquatic fauna on marine and freshwater environments – A comprehensive review. J App Biol Biotech. 2023;11(1):28-35.

Copyright: Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

HTML Full Text

1. Leslie HA, Van Velzen MJ, Brandsma SH, Vethaak D, Garcia- Vallejo JJ, Lamoree MH. Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood. Environ Int 2022;163:107199.

2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce, What is Aquaculture? Washington, DC: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Available from: [Last accessed on 2022 Jan 24].

3. Naylor RL, Hardy RW, Buschmann AH, Bush SR, Cao L, Klinger DH, et al. A 20-year retrospective review of global aquaculture. Nature 2021;591:551-63.

4. Ruff EO, Gentry RR, Lester SE. Understanding the role of socioeconomic and governance conditions in country-level marine aquaculture production. Environ Res Lett 2020;15:1040a8.

5. Krause G, Billing SL, Dennis J, Grant J, Fanning L, Filgueira R, et al. Visualizing the social in aquaculture: How social dimension components illustrate the effects of aquaculture across geographic scales. Mar Policy 2020;118:103985.

6. Food and Agriculture Organization. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization; 2018.

7. Tezzo X, Bush SR, Oosterveer P, Belton B. Food system perspective on fisheries and aquaculture development in Asia. Agric Hum Values 2021;38:73-90.

8. Belton B, Bush SR, Little DC. Not just for the wealthy: Rethinking farmed fish consumption in the Global South. Glob Food Secur 2018;16:85-92.

9. Belton B, Thilsted SH. Fisheries in transition: Food and nutrition security implications for the global South. Glob Food Secur 2014;3:59-66.

10. Food and Agriculture Organization. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in Action. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization; 2020.

11. Li D, Liu S. Water quality evaluation. In: Water Quality Monitoring and Management. Ch. 4. Cambridge: Academic Press; 2019. p. 113-59.

12. Anand PE. The Fish Farming Industry of India. Portsmouth: Global Aquaculture Alliance; 2019. Available from: https://www. [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 03].

13. UN Environment; 2018. Available from: https://www.unenvironment. org [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 03].

14. Charles Moore. Available from: https://www.captain-charles-moore. org/about [Last accessed on 2022 Jan 13].

15. United Nations Environment. 2016. Available from: https:// [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 03].

16. Newman S, Watkins E, Farmer A, Ten Brink P, Schweitzer JP. The economics of marine litter. In: Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Cham: Springer; 2015. p. 367-94.

17. Anderson A, Andrady A, Arthur C, Baker J, Bouwman H, Gall S, et al. Sources, fate and Effects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment: A Global Assessment. Vol. 90. GESAMP Report and Studies; 2015.

18. Gall SC, Thompson RC. The impact of debris on marine life. Mar Pollut Bull 2015;92:170-9.

19. Verschoor A, De Poorter L, Roex E, Bellert B. Quick scan and prioritization of microplastic sources and emissions. RIVM Lett Rep 2014;156:1-41.

20. Environmental Protection Agency. National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Wastes and Recycling; 2018. Available from: materials [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 06].

21. The Hindu, Feeding on Microplastics a Scourge Stalks the Sea; 2018. Available from: microplastics-a-scourge-stalks-the sea/ article 25527355.ece [Last accessed on 2021 Jun 03].

22. Lambert S, Wagner M. Microplastics are contaminants of emerging concern in freshwater environments: An overview. In: Freshwater Microplastics. Berlin: Springer; 2018. p. 1-23.

23. Peng J, Wang J, Cai L. Current understanding of microplastics in the environment: Occurrence, fate, risks, and what we should do. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2017;13:476-82.

24. Klein S, Dimzon IK, Eubeler J, Knepper TP. Analysis, occurrence, and degradation of microplastics in the aqueous environment. In: Freshwater Microplastics. Cham: Springer; 2018. p. 51-67.

25. Magnusson K, Norén F. Screening of Microplastic Particles in and Down-Stream a Waste water Treatment Plant. Stockholm: Swedish Environmental Research Institute; 2014.

26. Heinonen M, Talvitie J. Preliminary Study on Synthetic Microfibers and Particles at a Municipal Waste Water Treatment Plant. Helsinki: Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; 2014.

27. Estahbanati S, Fahrenfeld NL. Influence of wastewater treatment plant discharges on microplastic concentrations in surface water. Chemosphere 2016;162:277-84.

28. Murphy F, Ewins C, Carbonnier F, Quinn B. Wastewater treatment works (WwTW) as a source of microplastics in the aquatic environment. Environ Sci Technol 2016;50:5800-8.

29. Dyachenko A, Mitchell J, Arsem N. Extraction and identification of microplastic particles from secondary wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent. Anal Methods 2017;9:1412-8.

30. Mintenig SM, Int-Veen I, Löder MG, Primpke S, Gerdts G. Identification of microplastic in effluents of waste water treatment plants using focal plane array-based micro-fourier-transform infrared imaging. Water Res 2017;108:365-72.

31. Talvitie J, Mikola A, Setälä O, Heinonen M, Koistinen A. How well is microlitter purified from wastewater? A detailed study on the stepwise removal of microlitter in a tertiary level wastewater treatment plant. Water Res 2017;109:164-72.

32. Wardrop D, Bott C, Criddle C, Hale R, McDevitt J, Morse, M, et al. Technical Review of Microbeads/Microplastics in the Chesapeake Bay. STAC, Edgewater; 2016.

33. Wright SL, Thompson RC, Galloway TS. The physical impacts of microplastics on marine organisms: A review. Environ Pollut 2013;178:483-92.

34. Thompson RC, Olsen Y, Mitchell RP, Davis A, Rowland SJ, John AW, et al. Lost at sea: Where is all the plastic? Science 2004;304:838.

35. Cole M, Lindeque P, Fileman E, Halsband C, Goodhead R, Moger

J, et al. Microplastic ingestion by zooplankton. Environ Sci Technol 2013;47:6646-55.

36. Setälä O, Fleming-Lehtinen V, Lehtiniemi M. Ingestion and transfer of microplastics in the planktonic food web. Environ Pollut 2014;185:77-83.

37. Mendenhall E. Oceans of plastic: A research agenda to propel policy development. Mar Policy 2018;96:291-8.

38. Brennecke D, Duarte B, Paiva F, Caçador I, Canning-Clode J. Microplastics as vector for heavy metal contamination from the marine environment. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 2016;178:189-95.

39. Kwon JH, Chang S, Hong SH, Shim WJ. Microplastics as a vector of hydrophobic contaminants: Importance of hydrophobic additives. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2017;13:494-9.

40. Kershaw P. Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics-Global Lessons and Research to Inspire Action and Guide Policy Change. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme; 2016.

41. Schmidt C, Krauth, T, Wagner S. Export of plastic debris by rivers into the sea. Environ Sci Technol 2017;51:12246-53.

42. Schwarz AE, Ligthart TN, Boukris E, Van Harmelen T. Sources, transport, and accumulation of different Types of plastic litter in aquatic environments: A review study. Mar Pollut Bull 2019;143:92-100.

43. Blettler MC, Abrial E, Khan FR, Sivri N, Espinola LA. Freshwater plastic pollution: Recognizing research biases and identifying knowledge gaps. Water Res 2018;143:416-24.

44. Cable RN, Beletsky D, Beletsky R, Wigginton K, Locke BW, Duhaime MB. Distribution and modeled transport of plastic pollution in the great lakes, the world's largest freshwater resource. Front Environ Sci 2017;5:45.

45. Sruthy S, Ramasamy EV. Microplastic pollution in Vembanad Lake, Kerala, India: The first report of microplastics in lake and estuarine sediments in India. Environ Pollut 2017;222:315-22.

46. Boucher J, Faure F, Pompini O, Plummer Z, Wieser O, De Alencastro LF. (Micro) plastic fluxes and stocks in Lake Geneva basin. TrAC Trends Anal Chem 2019;112:66-74.

47. Dalu T, Banda T, Mutshekwa T, Munyai LF, Cuthbert RN. Effects of urbanisation and a wastewater treatment plant on microplastic densities along a subtropical river system. Environ Sci Pollut Res 2021;28:1-10.

48. Yu P, Liu Z, Wu D, Chen M, Lv W, Zhao Y. Accumulation of polystyrene microplastics in juvenile eriocheir sinensis and oxidative stress effects in the liver. Aquat Toxicol 2018;200:28-36.

49. Klein K, Heß S, Nungeß S, Schulte-Oehlmann U, Oehlmann J. Particle shape does not affect ingestion and egestion of microplastics by the freshwater shrimp Neocaridina palmata. Environ Sci Pollut Res 2021;28:62246-54.

50. Cole M, Lindeque P, Fileman E, Halsband C, Galloway TS. The impact of polystyrene microplastics on feeding, function and fecundity in the marine copepod calanus helgolandicus. Environ Sci Technol 2015;49:1130-7.

51. Lee KW, Shim WJ, Kwon OY, Kang JH. Size-dependent effects of micro polystyrene particles in the marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus. Environ Sci Technol 2013;47:11278-83.

52. Bergami E, Bocci E, Vannuccini ML, Monopoli M, Salvati A, Dawson KA, et al. Nano-sized polystyrene affects feeding, behavior and physiology of brine shrimp Artemia franciscana larvae. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2016;123:18-25.

53. Castro GB, Bernegossi AC, Felipe MC, Corbi JJ. Is the development of Daphnia magna neonates affected by short-term exposure to polyethylene microplastics? J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Eviron Eng 2020;55:935-46.

54. Hoffschröer N, Grassl N, Steinmetz A, Sziegoleit L, Koch M, Zeis B. Microplastic burden in Daphnia is aggravated by elevated temperatures. Zoology (Jeana) 2021;144:125881.

55. Pastorino P, Prearo M, Anselmi S, Menconi V, Bertoli M, Dondo A, et al. Use of the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha (Mollusca, Bivalvia) as a bioindicator of microplastics pollution in freshwater ecosystems: A case study from Lake Iseo (North Italy). Water 2021;13:434.

56. Moreschi AC, Callil CT, Christo SW, Junior AL, Nardes C, De Faria É, et al. Filtration, assimilation and elimination of microplastics by freshwater bivalves. Case Stud Chem Environ Eng 2020;2:100053.

57. Weber A, Jeckel N, Wagner M. Combined effects of polystyrene microplastics and thermal stress on the freshwater mussel Dreissena polymorpha. Sci Total Environ 2020;718:137253.

58. Kolenda K, Ku?mierek N, Pstrowska K. Microplastic ingestion by tadpoles of pond-breeding amphibians-first results from Central Europe (SW Poland). Environ Sci Pollut Res 2020;27:33380-4.

59. Zaki MR, Zaid SH, Zainuddin AH, Aris AZ. Microplastic pollution in tropical estuary gastropods: Abundance, distribution and potential sources of Klang River estuary, Malaysia. Mar Pollut Bull 2021;162:111866.

60. Lu Y, Zhang Y, Deng Y, Jiang W, Zhao Y, Geng J, et al. Uptake and accumulation of polystyrene microplastics in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and toxic effects in liver. Environ Sci Technol 2016;50:4054-60.

61. Lei L, Wu S, Lu S, Liu M, Song Y, Fu Z, et al. Microplastic particles cause intestinal damage and other adverse effects in zebrafish Danio rerio and nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Sci Total Environ 2018;619:1-8.

62. Guimarães AT, Charlie-Silva I, Malafaia G. Toxic effects of naturally-aged microplastics on zebrafish juveniles: A more realistic approach to plastic pollution in freshwater ecosystems. J Hazard Mat 2021;407:124833.

63. Qiang L, Lo LS, Gao Y, Cheng J. Parental exposure to polystyrene microplastics at environmentally relevant concentrations has negligible transgenerational effects on Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2020;206:111382.

64. Sun D, Wang J, Xie S, Tang H, Zhang C, Xu G, et al. Characterization and spatial distribution of microplastics in two wild captured economic freshwater fish from north and west rivers of Guangdong province. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2021;207:111555.

65. O'Connor JD, Murphy S, Lally HT, O'Connor I, Nash R, O'Sullivan J, et al. Microplastics in brown trout (Salmo trutta Linnaeus, 1758) from an Irish riverine system. Environ Pollut 2020;267:115572.

66. Silva-Cavalcanti JS, Silva JD, de França EJ, De Araújo MC, Gusmao F. Microplastics ingestion by a common tropical freshwater fishing resource. Environ Pollut 2017;221:218-26.

67. Andrade MC, Winemiller KO, Barbosa PS, Fortunati A, Chelazzi D, Cincinelli A, et al. First account of plastic pollution impacting freshwater fishes in the amazon: Ingestion of plastic debris by piranhas and other serrasalmids with diverse feeding habits. Environ Pollut 2019;244:766-73.

68. Atici AA, Sepil A, Sen F. High levels of microplastic ingestion by commercial, planktivorous Alburnus tarichi in Lake Van, Turkey. Food Addit Contam Part A Anal Control Expo Risk Asses 2021;38:1767-77.

69. Liu Y, Qiu X, Xu X, Takai Y, Ogawa H, Shimasaki Y, et al. Uptake and depuration kinetics of microplastics with different polymer types and particle sizes in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes). Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2021;212:112007.

70. Buwono NR, Risjani Y, Soegianto A. Contamination of microplastics in Brantas river, East Java, Indonesia and its distribution in gills and digestive tracts of fish Gambusia affinis. Emerg Contam 2021;7:172-8.

71. Daniel DB, Ashraf PM, Thomas SN. Microplastics in the edible and inedible tissues of pelagic fishes sold for human consumption in Kerala, India. Environ Pollut 2020;266:115365.

72. Akdogan Z, Guven B. Microplastics in the environment: A critical review of current understanding and identification of future researchneeds. Environ Pollut 2019;254:113011.

73. Sigler M. The effects of plastic pollution on aquatic wildlife: Current situations and future solutions. Water Air Soil Pollut 2014;225:1-9.

74. Thompson RC. Microplastics in the marine environment: Sources, Consequences and solutions. In: Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Cham: Springer; 2015. p. 185-200.

75. Wu WM, Yang J, Criddle CS. Microplastics pollution and reduction strategies. Front Environ Sci Eng 2017;11:1-4.

76. Urbanek AK, Rymowicz W, Miro?czuk AM. Degradation of plastics and plastic-degrading bacteria in cold marine habitats. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 2018;102:7669-78.

77. Prata JC, Silva AL, Da Costa JP, Mouneyrac C, Walker TR, Duarte AC, et al. Solutions and integrated strategies for the control and mitigation of plastic and microplastic pollution. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019;16:2411.

78. Liu K, Zhang F, Song Z, Zong C, Wei N, Li D. A novel method enabling the accurate quantification of microplastics in the water column of Deep Ocean. Mar Pollut Bull 2019;146:462-5.

79. Zhou D, Chen J, Wu J, Yang J, Wang H. Biodegradation and catalytic-chemical degradation strategies to mitigate microplastic pollution. Sustain Mat Technol 2021;28:e00251.

80. Jin N, Song Y, Ma R, Li J, Li G, Zhang D. Characterization and identification of microplastics using Raman spectroscopy coupled with multivariate analysis. Anal Chimica Acta 2022;1197:339519.

Article Metrics

5 Absract views 46 PDF Downloads 51 Total views

Related Search

By author names

Citiaion Alert By Google Scholar