Leachates from pyroplastics alter the behaviour of a key ecosystem engineer

Leachates from pyroplastics alter the behaviour of a key ecosystem engineer

Gerardo I. Zardi, Laurent Seuront, Nicolas Splimont, Pierre William Froneman, Katy R. Nicastro. Leachates from pyroplastics alter the behaviour of a key ecosystem engineer. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, Volume 301, 2024,108740, ISSN 0272-7714.


As plastic pollution is increasing rapidly, novel forms of plastic litter have been lately described. One of most recently described type of plastic litter is pyroplastic, i.e. an amorphous matrix derived from the burning of manufactured plastics. We surveyed 12 locations along northern French shores where mussel reefs are a predominant feature. We recorded pyroplastic items at six sites (average weight of 3.34g) mainly made of polyethylene. We then tested the effects of exposure to raw and beached pyroplastic leachates on adaptive behavioural traits of the mussel Mytilus edulis, a key ecosystem engineer. The ability of mussels to move and aggregate were significantly affected by pyroplastic leachates, particularly those from beached pyroplastics. Additionally, the strength of the effects was polymer-dependent, with PE having a more pronounced effects than PP. Our results provide the first evidence that pyroplastics have more severe impacts on living organisms than those triggered by non-burnt plastics.

BOREA Contact: Gerardo ZARDI , zardi73@yahoo.it

Picture title: (A) Example of an ambiguous pyroplastic item (on the left) and its easy misidentification with rock formations (on the right). (B) Map of the study area comprising of 11 sampling sites along the French coast of the eastern English Channel. Codes depict locations and items reported in Table 1; black and red dots depict absence and presence of pyroplastic items. (C) Photo of each piece identified as pyroplastic; the corresponding FTIR spectrum of each item is in Supplementary Material. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the Web version of this article).
Gerardo ZARDI's picture
Gerardo ZARDI
UCN Caen
Research assistant
University of Caen Normandy (UCN)
Published on 17 Apr 2024
Updated on 17 May 2024