Microplastics Affect Energy Balance and Gametogenesis in the Pearl Oyster Pinctada margaritifera

Plastic pollution in the environment is increasing at global scale. Microplastics (MP) are derived from degradation of larger plastic items or directly produced in microparticles form (< 5 mm). Plastics, widely used in structures and equipment of pearl farming, are a source of pollution to the detriment of the lagoon ecosystem. To evaluate the impact of MP on the physiology of Pinctada margaritifera, a species of ecological and commercial interests, adult oysters were exposed to polystyrene microbeads (micro-PS of 6 and 10 μm) for 2 months. Three concentrations, 0.25, 2.5, and 25 μg L–1, and a control were tested. Ingestion and respiration rate and assimilation efficiency were monitored on a metabolic measurement system to determine the individual energy balance (Scope For Growth, SFG). Effects on reproduction were also assessed. The assimilation efficiency decreased significantly according to micro-PS concentration. The SFG was significantly impacted by a dose-dependent decrease from 0.25 μg L–1 (p < 0.0001), and a negative SFG was measured in oysters exposed to 25 μg L–1. Gonads may have provided the missing energy to maintain animals’ metabolism through the production of metabolites derived from germ cells phagocytosis. This study shows that micro-PS significantly impact the assimilation efficiency and more broadly the energy balance of P. margaritifera, with negative repercussions on reproduction.