Marine diatoms have been identified among the most abundant taxa of microorganisms associated with plastic waste collected at sea. However, the impact of nano-sized plastic fragments (nanoplastics) at single cell and population level is almost unknown. We exposed the marine diatom Skeletonema marinoi to model polystyrene nanoparticles with carboxylic acid groups (PS–COOH NPs, 90 nm) for 15 days (1, 10, 50 μg/mL). Growth, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and nano-bio-interactions were investigated. No effect on diatom growth was observed, however Dynamic light scattering (DLS) demonstrated the formation of large PS aggregates which were localized at the diatoms’ fultoportula process (FPP), as shown by TEM images. Increase production of ROS and reduction in chain length were also observed upon PS NPs exposure (p < 0.005). The observed PS-diatom interaction could have serious consequences on diatoms ecological role on the biogeochemical cycle of carbon, by impairing the formation of fast-sinking aggregates responsible for atmospheric carbon fixation and sequestration in the ocean sea floor. S. marinoi exposure to PS NPs caused an increase of intracellular and extracellular oxidative stress, the reduction of diatom's chain length and the adhesion of PS NPs onto the algal surface.
Bellingeri, A., Casablanca, S., Capellacci, S., Faleri, C., Paccagnini, E., Lupetti, P., ... Corsi, I. (2020). Impact of polystyrene nanoparticles on marine diatom Skeletonema marinoi chain assemblages and consequences on their ecological role in marine ecosystems. Environmental Pollution, 262, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114268