DOI: 10.1002/etc.5725 ISSN: 0730-7268

Microplastic Pollution in the Gastrointestinal Tract and Gills of Some Teleost and Sturgeon Fish from the Caspian Sea, Northern Iran

Majid Rasta, Ali Khodadoust, Mohammad Reza Rahimibashar, Mojtaba S. Taleshi, Masoud Sattari
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry


The increasing microplastic pollution in the marine environment has raised global concern. The main risk of microplastics in aquatic ecosystem is their bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms. A few studies have reported microplastic pollution in the digestive system of Caspian Sea fish species, but there is no research on sturgeon species, nor on fish gills. We investigated the occurrence of microplastics in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and gills of 62 specimens belonging to four species including three teleosts (Cyprinus carpio, Rutilus kutum, and Chelon aurata) and one sturgeon (Acipenser persicus, a valuable endangered species) from the Caspian Sea between January and March 2022. Fish tissues were removed, exposed for 24 h to 10% KOH, and then dried on filter paper. Particles were observed under a stereomicroscope and analyzed by Raman microspectrometry, scanning electron microscopy, and energy‐dispersive spectroscopy. A total of 91 microplastics were detected in the GIT (average of 1.46 ± 1.17 items/individual) and 63 microplastics in the gills (average of 1.01 ± 0.62 items/individual). A significant correlation was not found between the number of microplastics found in both tissues and fish body length, body weight, GIT weight, and gill weight (p > 0.05), except between microplastics isolated from gills and gill weight in C. carpio (rs = 0.707, p = 0.022). The abundance of microplastics in fish followed the order of A. persicus > C. aurata > R. kutum > C. carpio. The microplastics were in the size range of 45 to 5000 µm, with particles of 300 to 1000 µm being the most prevalent; 74.68% of the particles were shaped like fibers, 30.53% were red, and 70.6% were composed of nylon polymer. Environ Toxicol Chem 2023;42:2453–2465. © 2023 SETAC

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