Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A serious arctic fauna is now infested with microplastics


The smaller a particle, the more organisms it can enter. Plastics can break down into such small forms that they enter the individual cells of either algae or zooplankton that eat them.

Researchers Can’t Say Yet Whether All That Microplastic Is Doing Harm Melosira arctica, But Excessive laboratory research have found that plastic particles can be toxic to other forms of algae. “In experiments with very high doses of microplastics, smaller microplastics were damaged and entered algal cells, causing stress responses such as chloroplast damage and thus inhibition of photosynthesis,” says Bergmann.

There’s also another concern: If enough plastic collects on algae, it can block sunlight from reaching the cells, further hindering photosynthesis and growth. Anja Brandon, associate director of US plastics policy at Ocean Conservancy, says, “This study really contributes to a growing body of research that shows that these microbes and these microplastics can be complex and become a really macroscopic problem.” ” T is included in the study. “This algae in the Arctic, and phytoplankton throughout marine environments, form the fundamental backbone of the marine food web.”

But the proliferation of plastics could be destroying that net. As summer temperatures rise and Arctic sea ice deteriorates, more and more algae clumps can break free and sink, taking those microplastics with them into new ecosystems. so scientists can be Search Deposition of particles in the sediments of the Arctic Ocean. “There’s a whole community just below where the ice is melting,” says Steve Allen, a microplastics researcher at the Ocean Frontiers Institute and co-author of the new paper. They say that the sinking algae are a kind of “conveyor belt” of food for benthic organisms such as sea cucumbers and brittle stars.

In this sensitive ecosystem, nutrition is relatively low compared to a tropical reef. If a sea cucumber is already working with a limited amount of food falling below the surface, then loading that food with inedible plastic would be bad. This is known as “food dilution” and has been Shown To become a problem for other small animals, which ingest microplastics, reducing their appetite for real food.

Ingesting plastic particles can also cause severe gut damage, as was recently shown in seabirds with a new disease called plasticosis. And that’s to say nothing of the potential chemical contamination to an animal’s digestive system: at least 10,000 chemicals have been used to make plastic polymers, a quarter of which are known to scientists. consider a matter of concern,

Photograph: Julian Gut/Alfred Wegener Institute