Effects of Micro- And Nanoplastics on Aquatic Ecosystems: Current Research Trends and Perspectives

Mar Pollut Bull. 2017 Nov 30;124(2):624-632. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.01.070. Epub 2017 Feb 20.


Contamination by bulk plastics and plastic debris is currently the one of the most serious environmental problems in aquatic ecosystems. In particular, small-scale plastic debris such as microplastics and nanoplastics has become leading contributors to the pollution of marine and freshwater ecosystems. Studies are investigating the impacts of micro-and nanoplastics on aquatic organisms and ecosystems worldwide. This review covers 83 studies that investigated the distribution of microplastics and the ecotoxicity of micro- and nanoplastics in marine and freshwater ecosystems. The studies indicated that micro-sized plastics and plastic debris were distributed at various concentrations in aquatic ecosystems around the world. They had various effects on the growth, development, behavior, reproduction, and mortality of aquatic animals. We discuss these studies in detail and suggest directions for future research.

Keywords: Aquatic ecosystems; Ecotoxicity; Microplastics; Nanoparticles; Nanoplastics; Pollution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms / drug effects
  • Ecosystem*
  • Ecotoxicology / methods
  • Ecotoxicology / trends*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fresh Water
  • Marine Biology / methods
  • Marine Biology / trends
  • Plastics / toxicity*
  • Waste Products
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Plastics
  • Waste Products
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical