Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Use of the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha (Mollusca, Bivalvia) as a bioindicator of microplastics pollution in freshwater ecosystems: a case study from Lake Iseo (north Italy).

Abstract

The monitoring of microplastics pollution in freshwater environments trails behind its practice in marine ecosystems. We evaluated the use of the invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) as a potential bioindicator of microplastic litter in freshwater lakes. Samples were collected from three sites (Lovere, Costa Volpino, Castro) at the northern end of Lake Iseo (one of the major subalpine lakes in north Italy) and compared for water physicochemical parameters, biometrical features of zebra mussels, and microplastics items/specimens (color, shape, size, and chemical composition). We hypothesized that since a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) on the Oglio River discharges into this area of the lake, the microplastics in D. polymorpha could be measured and compared in samples from the three sites at different distances from the WWTP. There was no difference in the physicochemical water parameters and biometric features between the samples from the three sites, whereas there was a significant difference in items/specimen between the sites in decreasing order (mean ± standard deviation): Costa Volpino (0.23 ± 0.43) > Lovere (0.07 ± 0.25) > Castro (0.03 ± 0.18). The chi-square test showed a significant difference in shape, color, and chemical composition frequency in the samples from the three sites. The chemical composition of the microplastics was polyethylene terephthalate (45%), nylon (20%), polypropylene (20%), polyamide resin (10%), and polyvinyl chloride (5%). Our data show that the amount of microplastics the zebra mussel accumulated was greater the closer the sampling site to the WWTP. Our findings suggest that the zebra mussel may provide a useful tool to monitor microplastics pollution in lakes.