Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


Microplastics are a growing and persistent contaminant in aquatic ecosystems. There is a wide variety of shapes that MPs can take, with fibers being the most prominently found in marine systems. Few studies have investigated the toxicological implications of MP exposure to freshwater organisms, and none so far has quantified the effect that fibers, as compared to spherical particles, may have on aquatic organisms. A 42-day chronic exposure to polypropylene MP fibers (0 – 22.5 MPs/mL) was conducted in order to investigate potential effects on mortality, growth, reproduction, and egestion times. Significant mortality was only observed at the highest concentration (22.5 MPs/mL). Growth and reproduction is also significantly less than the control at all exposures to MP fibers, with no mating pairs forming at all in concentrations greater than 5.63 MPs/mL. Interestingly, gut clearance times after exposure to MP fibers is also greater at concentrations greater than 5.63 MPs/mL. Delays in reproduction and growth may result from deficiencies in nutrient uptake. This study provides further insight on how the shape of MPs may hold significant implications on their toxicity to aquatic organisms.