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AB 29:149-154 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00735

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Examining effects of surfactants on particle clearance rate and capture efficiency of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis

Maria Rosa1,2,*, Yoselin Flores3, Katie Sierra4, Brian Torres5, J. Evan Ward6

1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA
2Department of Biology, Connecticut College, New London, CT 06320, USA
3Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60607, USA
4Northport Senior High School, Northport, NY 11768, USA
5Brentwood High School, Brentwood, NY 11717, USA
6Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Groton, CT 06340, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Suspension-feeding bivalve molluscs perform important ecological roles by coupling pelagic and benthic systems during their feeding activities. Particle capture, and thus feeding, is dependent on particle encounter and retention on the gill filaments, with several factors influencing this process. Over the past 30 yr, different types of synthetic microspheres have been used to examine aspects of particle capture and ingestion by bivalves. Critics of this work have posited that manufactured particles may contain surfactants, chemicals commonly used in manufacturing to reduce surface tension, that could produce spurious capture and ingestion rates. The goal of this work was to experimentally assess whether the presence of different types of surfactants on manufactured polystyrene particles can result in instantaneous effects on particle capture by the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. The effects of 3 different types of common surfactants (sodium dodecyl sulfate, benzalkonium chloride, Triton-X) on clearance rates (CR) and capture efficiencies (CE) were tested. Results indicated that none of the surfactant treatments had an effect on CR. Treatment with one of the surfactants (Triton-X) significantly lowered CE for 3 µm sized spheres compared to the control spheres (Milli-Q treated). None of the other tested surfactants significantly affected CE when compared to the control treatment. These data add to an understanding of particle handling by bivalves, and suggest that concentrations of surfactants found on commercially available microspheres used for experiments or found in the environment have little immediate effect on feeding processes.


KEY WORDS: Bivalves · Microplastics · Polystyrene · Suspension feeding


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Cite this article as: Rosa M, Flores Y, Sierra K, Torres B, Ward JE (2020) Examining effects of surfactants on particle clearance rate and capture efficiency of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. Aquat Biol 29:149-154. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00735

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