Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151663
Title (Primary) Environmental conditions affect the food quality of plastic associated biofilms for the benthic grazer Physa fontinalis
Author Michler-Kozma, D.N.; Neu, T.R.; Gabel, F.
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Year 2022
Department FLOEK
Volume 816
Page From art. 151663
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords Gastropod; Sublethal effects; Plastic pollution; Periphyton; Litter; Algae; Trophic interaction
Abstract With an ever-increasing amount of plastic pollution in the various aquatic ecosystems around the world, the effects on organisms are still not fully understood. Most studies focus on direct effects posed by plastic intake or entanglement, but plastic debris can also affect primary production of biofilms and have an indirect impact on its consumers. This study investigates the primary production on three common plastic types in freshwater and its food quality for a benthic grazer. We hypothesized that different polymer types affect biofilm composition as well as the life parameters of its consumers. We incubated polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polystyrene (PS) as well as glass (control) in a productive freshwater creek for natural biofilm establishment. To account for changes in the environmental conditions, the experiment was conducted twice during winter and late spring, respectively. These biofilms were offered to the freshwater gastropod Physa fontinalis as sole food source. Growth and reproduction of the snails were measured to monitor sublethal effects. Additionally, biofilm composition was observed using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). In winter, snails feeding off PET and PE showed a significantly lower egg production and lower growth rates were observed on PET. No such effects occurred in spring. CLSM data revealed, that algal growth was significantly lower on PE and PET during the winter treatment compared to PS and glass. Since we could only find these effects during the colder and darker months (January–March), the microbial colonization on PE and PET was inhibited by the substrate under less favorable conditions of temperature and light. Hence, benign conditions may mask the adverse effects of microplastic on food webs. Our findings show that future studies on the plastisphere will need to consider such variations to further understand the influence of plastic pollution on primary production and higher trophic levels.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Michler-Kozma, D.N., Neu, T.R., Gabel, F. (2022):
Environmental conditions affect the food quality of plastic associated biofilms for the benthic grazer Physa fontinalis
Sci. Total Environ. 816 , art. 151663