Plastic waste is a global environmental problem and without clear handling this plastic waste might enter the aquatic environment, threaten the life of aquatic organisms. A series of physical, chemical and biological reactions can occur when plastic enters the water, thus forming fragments less than 5 mm in size or called microplastics. Microplastic particles have a great possibility to interact with the phytoplankton community, the main primary producer group in the waters. This paper aims to comprehensively examine the morphological and physiological impacts of microplastic exposure on phytoplankton. The results of literature studies showed that exposure to microplastics causes damage to phytoplankton cell structures such as loss of cell membrane integrity, damage to cell organelles (Chloroplasts, Mitochondria), changes in cell volume and the formation of cytoplasmic vacuoles. Meanwhile, the physiological impact were the inhibition of cell growth, disruption of the photosynthesis process, increased concentrations of reactive oxygen species (ROS), changes in antioxidant activity and cell membrane peroxidation. Phytoplankton can perform several mechanisms in maintaining cells, namely the secretion of external polysaccharides (EPS), formation of vacuoles, homo-aggregation and hetero-aggregation, and biochemical detoxification. Information about these impacts is needed as an effort to handle and anticipate microplastic pollution in the waters.
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