Microplastic distribution in urban vs pristine mangroves: using marine sponges as bioindicators of environmental pollution

Omar Celis Hernandez, Ávila Enrique, Raymond Ward, Maria Rodríguez-Santiago, Jose Alberto Aguirre-Téllez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sessile benthic organisms are considered good bioindicators for monitoring environmental quality of coastal ecosystems. However, these environments are impacted by new pollutants such as microplastics (MPs), where there is limited information about organisms that can be used as reliable bioindicators of these emerging contaminants. We evaluated MP concentrations in three compartments: surface sediment, water and in three marine sponge species (Haliclona implexiformis, Halichondria melanadocia and Amorphinopsis atlantica), to determine whether these organisms accumulate MPs and reflect their possible sources. Results showed MPs in all three compartments. Average concentrations ranged from 1861 to 3456 items kg −1 of dry weight in marine sponges, 130 to 287 items L −1 in water and 6 to 11 items kg −1 in sediment. The maximum MP concentration was in the sponge A. atlantica, which registered 5000 items kg −1 of dry weight, in water was 670 items L −1 and in sediment was 28 items kg −1, these values were found in the disturbed study area. The three sponge species exhibited MP bioaccumulation and showed significant differences between disturbed and pristine sites (F = 11.2, p < 0.05), suggesting their use as bioindicators of MP.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number117391
    JournalEnvironmental Pollution
    Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    OCH and MARS are CONACyT research fellows commissioned to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (project No. 345) and Universidad Autónoma de Carmen (project No. 1205). We thank to Mario Alejandro Gomez-Ponce, Andres Reda-Deara and Hernan Alvarez-Guillen for their technical assistance with field samplings. This study was founded by the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología internal project no. 618 , with complementary funding from the project PAPIIT-IN203419 , UNAM.


    • Gulf of Mexico
    • Isla del carmen
    • Mangroves
    • Marine sponges
    • Microplastics


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