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The Effect of Exposure to Microplastic Particles on Baltic Sea Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) Filtration Rate

Jönsson, Mathias (2016) BIOK01 20152
Degree Projects in Biology
Abstract
This study sought to investigate the effect of microplastics on Mytilus edulis’s ability to filtrate water. The mussels were sampled at Hanö bay located in the Baltic Sea, and were transported to a controlled environment. The mussels were exposed to three different solutions, one containing a concentration of 1 000 Microbeads (diameter 10 μm) per liter, one containing the same amount of plastic beads in addition to algae in a concentration of 3 000- 5 000 cells per ml, and the third group containing only algae. The mussels were kept in these different conditions for six days. After this acclimatization period the mussels were given filtrated salt water, and were all fed the same amount of algae during four hours. The number of algal cells... (More)
This study sought to investigate the effect of microplastics on Mytilus edulis’s ability to filtrate water. The mussels were sampled at Hanö bay located in the Baltic Sea, and were transported to a controlled environment. The mussels were exposed to three different solutions, one containing a concentration of 1 000 Microbeads (diameter 10 μm) per liter, one containing the same amount of plastic beads in addition to algae in a concentration of 3 000- 5 000 cells per ml, and the third group containing only algae. The mussels were kept in these different conditions for six days. After this acclimatization period the mussels were given filtrated salt water, and were all fed the same amount of algae during four hours. The number of algal cells per liter was counted every half hour, by removing a one ml sample and analyzing it using a FlowCam in order to test for any differences in filtration rate between the different groups. The study found that there was no significant difference in the net change in algal content between the groups, thus drawing the conclusion that microplastics in a concentration of 1000 beads per liter does not have a short-term effect on the filtration rate of the mussels. These results are discussed here to suggest that that the mussels are able to separate the microplastic into non-food particles before ingesting them. The results indicate that this process requires some amount of energy, which in turn make the mussels hungrier. This could have negative effects on the fitness of the mussels in the long-term, however the long term effects were not tested in this study. The study concludes that more research is needed. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Will the Blue Mussel (Mytilus Edulis) Be Able to Cope With an Increasing Concentration of Microplastics in the Sea?

Today there is an annual production of over 300 million tons of plastics. A large percentage of this will eventually reach the ocean. In Norway alone, there is an estimated annual emission of microplastics of around 8 000 tons. Microplastics are microscopic particles that are receiving greater and greater attention from researchers and news media around the world. The tiny particles are found in many household items and are being washed out into the world’s oceans every day. Microplastics can also be created through the slow process of photodegredation. This process will continuously break down larger plastics into smaller... (More)
Will the Blue Mussel (Mytilus Edulis) Be Able to Cope With an Increasing Concentration of Microplastics in the Sea?

Today there is an annual production of over 300 million tons of plastics. A large percentage of this will eventually reach the ocean. In Norway alone, there is an estimated annual emission of microplastics of around 8 000 tons. Microplastics are microscopic particles that are receiving greater and greater attention from researchers and news media around the world. The tiny particles are found in many household items and are being washed out into the world’s oceans every day. Microplastics can also be created through the slow process of photodegredation. This process will continuously break down larger plastics into smaller and smaller prices.

Once the plastic has reached the ocean, it might encounter a large variety of organisms. It might end up in a turtle’s stomach or even around a bird’s neck. The microplastics fate however, is currently being determined. Previous research has found that benthic filter feeders, like the blue mussel, frequently come into contact with microplastics.

This study wanted to investigate the effect of microplastics on the blue mussel’s ability to filter water. I started by sampling mussels at Hanö bay, located on the North-Eastern part of Scania. The mussels were given different solutions; some were exposed to microplastics while others were just given algae. After the mussels had been exposed to the different solutions for six days, they were given seawater containing a fixed amount algae. By monitoring the algae concentration for several hours I was able to see if the microplastics had an effect on the filtration rate of the mussels. The study found that the mussels were able to cope with a high concentration of microplastics without any apparent negative effect on the mussel’s ability to filter water. However, the results suggest that the plastic caused an increased energy usage for the mussels, resulting in hunger. This could potentially have severe long-term effects on the health of the mussel, and might in the future lead to a declining mussel population in heavily polluted areas.

Many unanswered questions about microplastics still remain. Two of the more pressing issues is what long term effects the microplastics will have. As well as further studying the effects of microplastics in the wild.

It is clear that we need to stop polluting our oceans with plastic materials, however this study show some optimistic results for the blue mussel. The selective feeding of the blue mussel might make it one of the better candidates for coping with an increased concentration of microplastics in the world’s oceans.

Supervisor: Per Carlsson
Degree Project in Biology 15 credits, 2015
Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
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author
Jönsson, Mathias
supervisor
organization
course
BIOK01 20152
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
language
English
id
8840923
date added to LUP
2016-03-10 13:42:37
date last changed
2016-03-10 13:42:37
@misc{8840923,
  abstract     = {This study sought to investigate the effect of microplastics on Mytilus edulis’s ability to filtrate water. The mussels were sampled at Hanö bay located in the Baltic Sea, and were transported to a controlled environment. The mussels were exposed to three different solutions, one containing a concentration of 1 000 Microbeads (diameter 10 μm) per liter, one containing the same amount of plastic beads in addition to algae in a concentration of 3 000- 5 000 cells per ml, and the third group containing only algae. The mussels were kept in these different conditions for six days. After this acclimatization period the mussels were given filtrated salt water, and were all fed the same amount of algae during four hours. The number of algal cells per liter was counted every half hour, by removing a one ml sample and analyzing it using a FlowCam in order to test for any differences in filtration rate between the different groups. The study found that there was no significant difference in the net change in algal content between the groups, thus drawing the conclusion that microplastics in a concentration of 1000 beads per liter does not have a short-term effect on the filtration rate of the mussels. These results are discussed here to suggest that that the mussels are able to separate the microplastic into non-food particles before ingesting them. The results indicate that this process requires some amount of energy, which in turn make the mussels hungrier. This could have negative effects on the fitness of the mussels in the long-term, however the long term effects were not tested in this study. The study concludes that more research is needed.},
  author       = {Jönsson, Mathias},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Effect of Exposure to Microplastic Particles on Baltic Sea Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) Filtration Rate},
  year         = {2016},
}