Digesting the Indigestible: Microplastic Extraction from Prawn Digestive Tracts

Li, Joan Y.Q., Nankervis, Leo, and Dawson, Amanda L. (2022) Digesting the Indigestible: Microplastic Extraction from Prawn Digestive Tracts. Frontiers in Environmental Chemistry, 3. 903314.

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Microplastics (MPs) have become ubiquitous in the marine environment, and are likely ingested by a broad cross-section of marine life. The extent to which marine organisms ingest MPs is uncertain due to limitations in analytical methods. Effective identification and analysis of ingested MPs is a precursor to understand their impact on marine organisms and their human consumers. This is particularly challenging for crustaceans, due to the chitin present in their exoskeleton and digestive systems, which is resistant to chemical degradation. This study presents a novel application that can efficiently break down the stable organic tissue of banana prawns (Penaeus merguiensis), and subsequently isolate putative MP polymers from the digestive tract without damaging their integrity. Five treatments were examined for their capacity to break down chitin from the prawn digestive system; namely acid, alkaline, oxidant, enzyme and microwave assisted oxidant digestion. Gravimetric and image analysis revealed that the organic tissue of the prawn gastrointestinal tract can be effectively removed by acid, oxidant, and microwave assisted oxidant digestion methods. However, testing on seven reference polymers (polyamide (PA), polyethylene (PE), polyester (PES), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and rayon) revealed significant degradation when exposed to acid digestion. Overall, microwave assisted oxidant digestion achieved the best recovery rate of spiked MPs ( > 90%) with minimal size, shape, and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectral changes for all polymers except for rayon. These results highlight a new direction for tissue removal and MP extraction in crustacean ingestion studies.

Item ID: 75453
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2673-4486
Keywords: crustacean, plastic, microwave ovens, seafood, chitin
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2022 Li, Nankervis and Dawson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2022 03:50
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300599 Fisheries sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300504 Fish physiology and genetics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1003 Fisheries - wild caught > 100303 Wild caught crustaceans (excl. rock lobster and prawns) @ 100%
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