Exposure to virgin and marine incubated microparticles of biodegradable and conventional polymers modulates the hepatopancreas transcriptome of Mytilus galloprovincialis

Journal of Hazardous Materials

Volume: 468 Pages: 133819  ISSN: 0304-3894 Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2024.133819

Authors: Giacomo Limonta, Cristina Panti, Maria Cristina Fossi, Francesco Nardi, Matteo Baini

Abstract: Biodegradable polymers have been proposed as an alternative to conventional plastics to mitigate the impact of marine litter, but the research investigating their toxicity is still in its infancy. This study evaluates the potential ecotoxicological effects of both virgin and marine-incubated microparticles (MPs), at environmentally relevant concentration (0.1 mg/l), made of different biodegradable polymers (Polycaprolactone, Mater-Bi, cellulose) and conventional polymers (Polyethylene) on Mytilus galloprovincialis by using transcriptomics. This approach is increasingly being used to assess the effects of pollutants on organisms, obtaining data on numerous biological pathways simultaneously. Whole hepatopancreas de novo transcriptome sequencing was performed, individuating 972 genes differentially expressed across experimental groups compared to the control. Through the comparative transcriptomic profiling emerges that the preponderant effect is attributable to the marine incubation of MPs, especially for incubated polycaprolactone (731 DEGs). Mater-Bi and cellulose alter the smallest number of genes and biological processes in the mussel hepatopancreas. All microparticles, regardless of their polymeric composition, dysregulated innate immunity, and fatty acid metabolism biological processes. These findings highlight the necessity of considering the interactions of MPs with the environmental factors in the marine ecosystem when performing ecotoxicological evaluations. The results obtained contribute to fill current knowledge gaps regarding the potential environmental impacts of biodegradable polymers.