The rapid increase in plastic use over the last few decades has resulted in plastic pollution in freshwater and marine ecosystems. However, more attention has been paid to plastic pollution in marine ecosystems than to freshwater ecosystems. This research determined microplastic ingestion by Daphnia magna and the potential effect of microplastics on the organism’s survival and reproduction. The study also examined the potential of microplastics to enhance algal growth in support of understanding effects of microplastic ingestion on the organism. When exposed to 25, 50, and 100 mg/L fluorescent green polyethylene microbeads at size of 63–75 μm, D. magna ingested significant amount of plastic microbeads. The number of ingested beads increased with increasing particle concentration and exposure time. However, no significant effect on survival and reproduction was observed although the gut of D. magna was filled with plastic microbeads. In the algal experiment, Raphidocelis subcapitata grew more in the exposure media with the present of plastic microbeads than without plastic microbeads. This result suggests that plastic microbeads could serve as substrates for R. subcapitata to grow. Raphidocelis subcapitata then could be transferred to the organism’s gut and provided energy for survival and reproduction. Results of the present study add to the literature of microplastic ingestion by aquatic organisms. Caution should be taken when interpreting hazards of microplastics based on ingestion, such as the measurement unit and the presence of algae in the environment.
P. M. Canniff, T. C. Hoang, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 633, 15 August 2018, Pages 500–507