Programme: PRIN: Progetti di ricerca di rilevante interesse nazionale – Bando 2017

Project title: Exploring the fate of Mediterranean microplastics: from distribution pathways to biological effects

Acronym: EMME

Duration: 29/04/2020 – 29/10/2023

Project budget: € 1.166.732

ISMAR budget: € 108.804

Web site: n/a

EMME gathers integrated expertise on oceanography, ecophysiology, ecotoxicology and experimental ecology, answering key research questions on fate and biological effects of Mediterranean microplastics (MPs). Modelling transport dynamics will identify possible accumulation zones, while characterization of vertical distribution of MPs in water column will optimise actual monitoring and sampling efforts. Oceanographic conditions and transfer of MPs in food webs will be linked by analysing content, typology of MPs and stable isotopes in representative marine species and the role of plastic additives as chemical tracers. Biofouling will be characterized in mesocosm conditions and tested for its effects on palatability and trophic transfer of MPs. Adsorption of chemicals and ecotoxicological effects of MPs will be measured on traditional and innovative biological models. EMME will evaluate formation of MP-rich biodeposits in sediments due to bivalve excretion, effects on macrobenthic communities and relevant ecosystem functions and services. The overall results will provide support for normative guidelines towards the MSFD objective of Good Environmental State. Effort will be given to raise public awareness developing specific outreach strategies and innovative approaches.

Contact person in ISMAR:



  1. Università Politecnica delle Marche (Italy)
  2. Università degli Studi di Siena (Italy)
  3. Università degli Studi di Bologna (Italy)
  4. Università degli Studi di Napoli “Parthenope” (Italy)
  5. Università degli Studi di Palermo (Italy)
  6. CNR-IAS (Italy)