Imhof, HK; Laforsch, C: Hazardous or not - Are adult and juvenile individuals of Potamopyrgus antipodarum affected by non-buoyant microplastic particles?, Environmental Pollution, 218, 383-391 (2016), doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2016.07.017
Key words: Microplastic particles, Freshwater, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, Morphology, Development, Fecundity
Microplastic has been ubiquitously detected in freshwater ecosystems. A variety of freshwater organisms were shown to ingest microplastic particles, while a high potential for adverse effects are expected. However, studies addressing the effect of microplastic in freshwater species are still scarce compared to studies on marine organisms. In order to gain further insights into possible adverse effects of microplastic particles on freshwater invertebrates and to set the base for further experiments we exposed the mud snail (Potampoyrgus antipodarum) to a large range of common and environmentally relevant nonbuoyant polymers (polyamide, polyethylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, polystyrene, polyvinylchloride). The impact of these polymers was tested by performing two exposure experiments with irregular shaped microplastic particles with a broad size distribution in a low (30%) and a high microplastic dose (70%) in the food. First, possible effects on adult P. antipodarum were assessed by morphological and life-history parameters. Second, the effect of the same mixture on the development of juvenile P. antipodarum until maturity was analyzed. Adult P. antipodarum showed no morphological changes after the exposure to the microplastic particles, even if supplied in a high dose. Moreover, although P. antipodarum is an established model organism and reacts especially sensitive to endocrine active substances no effects on embryogenesis were detected. Similarly, the juvenile development until maturity was not affected. Considering, that most studies showing effects on marine and freshwater invertebrates mostly exposed their experimental organisms to very small (20 mm) polystyrene microbeads, we anticipate that these effects may be highly dependent on the chemical composition of the polymer itself and the size and shape of the particles. Therefore, more studies are necessary to enable the identification of harmful synthetic polymers as some of them may be problematic and should be declared as hazardous whereas others may have relatively moderate or no effects.
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