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Detection, counting and characterization of nanoplastics in marine bioindicators: a proof of principle study



Jeremie Parot, Andrea Valsesia, Jessica Ponti, Dora Mehn, Rita Marino, Daniela Melillo, Samantha Facchetti, Shinichiro Muramoto, R. Michael Verkouteren, Vincent A. Hackley, Pascal Colpo


Plastic particulates in the environment pose an increasing concern for regulatory bodies due to their potential risk to higher organisms (including humans) as they enter the food chain. Nanoplastics (pNP) (defined here as smaller than 1 µm) are particularly challenging to detect and analyze at environmentally relevant concentrations and in biological matrices. The tunicate Ciona Robusta is a valid bioindicator for micro and pNP contamination in the marine environment, due to its capacity to filter substantial volumes of water and to accumulate particulates. In the present study, following controlled exposure using spiked samples of a model pNP (100 nm polystyrene beads) the nanoparticles were separated from the biological matrix, purified and concentrated for analysis. The described method yields the approximate pNP concentration in the organism (with a limit of detection of 106 NP/ml) and provides the chemical composition. Furthermore, this method can be extended to other biological matrices, and used to quantitatively monitor the concentration of pNP in the environment and food chain.
Microplastics and Nanoplastics


nanomaterial, nanometrology, nanoplastic, microplastic, environment, field flow fractionation, bioindicator


Parot, J. , Valsesia, A. , Ponti, J. , Mehn, D. , Marino, R. , Melillo, D. , Facchetti, S. , Muramoto, S. , Verkouteren, R. , Hackley, V. and Colpo, P. (2021), Detection, counting and characterization of nanoplastics in marine bioindicators: a proof of principle study, Microplastics and Nanoplastics, [online], (Accessed May 23, 2024)


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Created April 15, 2021, Updated April 15, 2022