Ingestion of micro- and nanoplastics in Daphnia magna – Quantification of body burdens and assessment of feeding rates and reproduction

Evidence is increasing that micro- and nanoplastic particles can have adverse effects on aquatic organisms. Exposure studies have so far mainly been qualitative since quantitative measurements of particle ingestion are analytically challenging. The aim of this study was therefore to use a quantitative approach for determining ingestion and egestion of micro- and nanoplastics in Daphnia magna and to analyze the influence of particle size, exposure duration and the presence of food. One week old animals were exposed to 2 μm and 100 nm fluorescent polystyrene beads (1 mg/l) for 24 h, followed by a 24 h egestion period in clean medium. During both phases body burdens of particles were determined by measuring the fluorescence intensity in dissolved tissues. Ingestion and egestion were investigated in the absence and presence of food (6.7·105 cells of Raphidocelis subcapitata per ml). Furthermore, feeding rates of daphnids in response to particle exposure were measured as well as effects on reproduction during a 21 days exposure (at 1 mg/l, 0.5 mg/l and 0.1 mg/l) to investigate potential impairments of physiology. Both particle sizes were readily ingested, but the ingested mass of particles was five times higher for the 2 μm particles than for the 100 nm particles. Complete egestion did not occur within 24 h but generally higher amounts of the 2 μm particles were egested. Animal body burdens of particles were strongly reduced in the presence of food. Daphnid feeding rates decreased by 21% in the presence of 100 nm particles, but no effect on reproduction was found despite high body burdens of particles at the end of 21 days exposure. The lower egestion and decreased feeding rates, caused by the 100 nm particles, could indicate that particles in the nanometer size range are potentially more hazardous to D. magna compared to larger particle sizes.

Sinja Rist, Anders Baun, Nanna B. Hartmann, Environmental Pollution, Volume 228, September 2017, Pages 398–407


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