Validation of an optimised protocol for quantification of microplastics in heterogenous samples: a case study using green turtle chyme

Caron, Alexandra G.M., Thomas, Colette R., Berry, Kathryn L.E., Motti, Cherie A., Ariel, Ellen, and Brodie, Jon E. (2018) Validation of an optimised protocol for quantification of microplastics in heterogenous samples: a case study using green turtle chyme. MethodsX, 5. pp. 812-823.

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Quantifying the extent of microplastic (<5 mm) contamination in the marine environment is an emerging field of study. Reliable extraction of microplastics from the gastro-intestinal content of marine organisms is crucial to evaluate microplastic contamination in marine fauna. Extraction protocols and variations thereof have been reported, however, these have mostly focussed on relatively homogenous samples (i.e. water, sediment, etc.). Here, we present a microplastic extraction protocol for examining green turtle (Chelonia mydas) chyme (i.e. ingested material and digestive tract fluid), which is a heterogeneous composite of various organic dietary items (e.g. seagrass, jellyfish) and incidentally-ingested inorganic materials (sediment). Established extraction methods were modified and combined. This protocol consists of acid digestion of organic matter, emulsification of residual fat, density separation from sediment, and chemical identification by Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy. This protocol enables the extraction of the most common microplastic contaminants>100 mm: polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, (aminoethyl) polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride, with 100% efficiency. This validated protocol will enable researchers worldwide to quantify microplastic contamination in turtles in a reliable and comparable way.

Item ID: 56612
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2215-0161
Keywords: plastic ingestion, marine debris, plastic contamination, extraction technique, chemical digestion, density separation, fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy
Copyright Information: © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Funders: TropWATER at James Cook University (JCU), Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2019 01:30
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410299 Ecological applications not elsewhere classified @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
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