Tiny bits of plastic rubbish could spell big trouble for marine life, starting with the worms, say a team of researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth University who report their evidence in a pair of studies in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 2.
The marine worms play a key ecological role as an important source of food for other animals.
Work by Stephanie Wright from Biosciences at the University of Exeter found that if ocean sediments are heavily contaminated with microplastics, marine lugworms eat less and their energy levels suffer. A separate report, from Mark Anthony Browne on work performed at Plymouth University, shows that ingesting microplastic can also reduce the health of lugworms by delivering harmful chemicals, including hydrocarbons, antimicrobials and flame retardants to them. (more…)