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

Maria Rosa*, Yoselin Flores, Katie Sierra, Brian Torres, J. Evan Ward

*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 years, 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 three 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 surfactants tested 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.