Contrary to Marine Environments, Common Microplastics in Freshwater Systems May Not Emit Dimethyl Sulfide: An Important Infochemical

  • Lauren ZinkEmail author
  • Gregory G. Pyle


The ingestion of microplastics by marine species has been at least partially attributed to plastics emitting a dimethyl sulfide signature when exposed to marine conditions. Dimethyl sulfide, a member of the volatile organic sulfur compounds group, is an infochemical that many species rely on to locate and identify prey while foraging. Microplastic ingestion is also observed in freshwater systems; however, this study shows that the same dimethyl sulfide signature is not obtained by three common types of plastic (high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, and polystyrene) in freshwater systems, suggesting that there may be an alternate mechanism driving plastic ingestion by freshwater species.


Dimethyl sulfide Microplastics Freshwater Plastic degradation Microplastic ingestion 



This work was supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2015-04492) held by G. Pyle and an Alberta Conservation Association Grant in Biodiversity (RES0035325-S016) held by L. Zink. We would like to acknowledge Pyle Laboratory for Aquatic Health member Sean Everitt for his assistance in data acquisition.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

The guidelines established by the Canadian Council on Animal Care exempt the invertebrate animals used in this study, the ethical principles set out therein were respected in the execution of this work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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