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Trophic transfer, bioaccumulation and translocation of microplastics in an international listed wetland on the Montreux record.

Microplastics (MPs) are concerning emerging pollutants. Here, MPs in four edible aquatic species of different trophic levels (between ∼2-4), including fish species Esox lucius (Esocidae: Esocinae); Cyprinus carpio (Cyprinidae: Cyprininae); and Luciobarbus caspius (Cyprinidae: Barbinae); and the swan mussel Anodonta cygnea (Unionidae), were assessed in the Anzali freshwater ecosystem. It is a listed wetland in the Montreux record. MPs were extracted from gastrointestinal tracts (GI), gills, muscles, and skin. All the studied fish and mussels (n = 33) had MPs. MP fibres, fragments and sheets were detected in every GI examined, however, fibres were the only type of MPs in skins, muscles and gills and were the most abundant MP. The MPs found in the fish and mussels were mainly made of nylon (35% of the total MPs), polypropylene-low density polyethylene (30%), and polycarbonate (25%). The average numbers of MPs found in every fish specimen, expressed per wet body mass, had a moderate negative correlation with the condition factor (K) (MP/g - K: Pearson correlation r= -0.413, p = 0.049), and there was no significant relation with the growth factor (b) (r = -0.376; p = 0.068). Importantly, Luciobarbus caspius (with trophic level 2.7-2.8) bioaccumulated MPs and presented a strong correlation between their MP contamination and age (r = 0.916 p < 0.05). Greater gill mass (or related factors) played an important role in the accumulation of MPs, and there was a strong correlation between these factors for Esox lucius and Cyprinus carpio (r = 0.876; r = 0.846; p < 0.05 respectively). The highest MP/g gills (1.91±2.65) were in the filter feeder Anodonta cygnea inhabiting the benthic zone. Esox lucius (piscivorous, trophic level 4.1) was the most contaminated species overall (a total of 83 MPs in 8 individuals, with 0.92 MPs/g fish), and their gills where MPs mainly accumulated. Cyprinus carpio was the most contaminated specimen (MPs in specimens), while the number of MPs per mass unit increased with the trophic level. Their feeding and ecological behavior in the aquatic habitat affected the level of accumulation. This work includes evidence of translocation of MPs within the aquatic organisms.

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