The Effects of Natural and Anthropogenic Microparticles on Individual Fitness in Daphnia magna

Concerns are being raised that microplastic pollution can have detrimental effects on the feeding of aquatic invertebrates, including zooplankton. Both small plastic fragments (microplastics, MPs) produced by degradation of larger plastic waste (secondary MPs; SMPs) and microscopic plastic spheres used in cosmetic products and industry (primary MPs; PMPs) are ubiquitously present in the environment. However, despite the fact that most environmental MPs consist of weathered plastic debris with irregular shape and broad size distribution, experimental studies of organism responses to MP exposure have largely used uniformly sized spherical PMPs. Therefore, effects observed for PMPs in such experiments may not be representative for MP-effects in situ. Moreover, invertebrate filter-feeders are generally well adapted to the presence of refractory material in seston, which questions the potential of MPs at environmentally relevant concentrations to measurably affect digestion in these organisms. Here, we compared responses to MPs (PMPs and SMPs) and naturally occurring particles (kaolin clay) using the cladoceran Daphnia magna as a model organism. We manipulated food levels (0.4 and 9 μg C mL-1) and MP or kaolin contribution to the feeding suspension (<1 to 74%) and evaluated effects of MPs and kaolin on food uptake, growth, reproductive capacity of the daphnids, and maternal effects on offspring survival and feeding. Exposure to SMPs caused elevated mortality, increased inter-brood period and decreased reproduction albeit only at high MP levels in the feeding suspension (74% by particle count). (…)

Martin Ogonowski, Christoph Schür, Åsa Jarsén, Elena Gorokhova, Plos One, 11 (5) : e0155063, May 2016

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