Faculty Publications

Synergistic Effects of Microplastic and Lead Trigger Physiological and Biochemical Impairment in a Mangrove Crab

Document Type



High-density polyethylene, Metals, Osmotic pressure, Oxidative stress, Oxygen consumption, Semi-terrestrial crab

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part - C: Toxicology and Pharmacology




Microplastics (MP) are vectors for other environmental contaminants, such as metals, being a considerable problem, especially in the aquatic ecosystem. To investigate the combined effects of MP (high density polyethylene) with lead (Pb), we exposed the mangrove fiddler crab Minuca vocator to Pb (50 mg L−1), and MP (25 mg L−1) alone and in mixture, for 5 days. We aimed to determine Pb and MP bioaccumulation, as well as physiological (oxygen consumption and hemolymph osmolality) and biochemical (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and lipid peroxidation) traits effects. Co-exposure of MP and Pb significantly increased the bioaccumulation of Pb, but reduced MP tissue accumulation. Regarding the physiological traits, increasing osmolality and oxygen consumption rates compared to the control were observed, particularly in the combined Pb and MP exposure. As to biochemical traits, the combination of Pb and MP induced the most significant responses in the enzymatic profile antioxidant enzyme activity. The catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and dismutase superoxide (SOD) decreased compared to individual exposure effects; the combination of MP and Pb had a synergistic effect on promoting lipid peroxidation (LPO). The co-exposure of MP and Pb acted synergistically when compared to the effects of the isolated compounds. Due to the increasing MP contamination in mangroves, more severe physiological and biochemical effects can be expected on mangrove crabs exposed to metal contamination.


Department of Biology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version