Effects of microplastics mixed with natural particles on Daphnia magna populations

  • The toxicity of microplastics on Daphnia magna as key model for freshwater zooplankton is well described. While several studies predict population-level effects based on short-term, individual-level responses, only very few have validated these predictions experimentally. Thus, we exposed D. magna populations to irregular polystyrene microplastics and diatomite as natural particle (both ≤63 µm) over 50 days. We used mixtures of both particle types at fixed particle concentrations (50,000 mL-1) and recorded the overall population density, the size of the individual animals, and resting egg production. Particle exposure adversely affected the population density and structure and induced resting egg production. The terminal population size was 31–42% lower in exposed compared to control populations. Interestingly, mixtures containing diatomite induced stronger effects than microplastics alone highlighting that natural particles are not per se less toxic than microplastics. Our results demonstrate that an exposure to synthetic and natural particles has negative population-level effects on zooplankton. Understanding the mixture toxicity of microplastics and natural particles is important given that aquatic organisms will experience exposure to both. Just as for chemical pollutants, better knowledge of such joint effects is essential to fully understand the environmental risks of complex particle mixtures. Environmental Implications While microplastics are commonly considered hazardous based on individual-level effects, there is a dearth of information on how they affect populations. Since the latter is key for understanding the environmental impacts of microplastics, we investigated how particle exposures affect the population size and structure of Daphnia magna. In addition, we used mixtures of microplastics and natural particles because neither occurs alone in nature and joint effects can expected in an environmentally realistic scenario. We show that such mixtures adversely affect daphnid populations and highlight that population-level and mixture-toxicity designs are one important step towards more environmental realism in microplastics research.

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Author:Christoph SchürORCiDGND, Joana Beck, Scott LambertORCiD, Christian SchererORCiDGND, Jörg OehlmannORCiDGND, Martin WagnerORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):bioRxiv
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2022/05/05
Date of first Publication:2022/05/05
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/09/14
Issue:2022.05.04.490562 Version 1
Edition:Version 1
Page Number:17
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 333 Boden- und Energiewirtschaft / 333.7 Natürliche Ressourcen, Energie und Umwelt
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International