Scoping intergenerational effects of nanoplastic on the lipid reserves of Antarctic krill embryos
Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) plays a central role in the Antarctic marine food web and biogeochemical cycles and has been identified as a species that is potentially vulnerable to plastic pollution. While plastic pollution has been acknowledged as a potential threat to Southern Ocean marine ecosystems, the effect of nanoplastics (<1000 nm) is poorly understood. Deleterious impacts of nanoplastic are predicted to be higher than that of larger plastics, due to their small size which enables their permeation of cell membranes and potentially provokes toxicity. Here, we investigated the intergenerational impact of exposing Antarctic krill to nanoplastics. We focused on whether embryonic energy resources were affected when gravid female krill were exposed to nanoplastic by determining lipid and fatty acid compositions of embryos produced in incubation. Embryos were collected from females who had spawned under three different exposure treatments (control, nanoplastic, nanoplastic + algae). Embryos collected from each maternal treatment were incubated for a further 6 days under three nanoplastic exposure treatments (control, low concentration nanoplastic, and high concentration nanoplastic). Nanoplastic additions to seawater did not impact lipid metabolism (total lipid or fatty acid composition) across the maternal or direct embryo treatments, and no interactive effects were observed. The provision of a food source during maternal exposure to nanoplastic had a positive effect on key fatty acids identified as important during embryogenesis, including higher total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) when compared to the control and nanoplastic treatments. Whilst the short exposure time was ample for lipids from maternally digested algae to be incorporated into embryos, we discuss why the nanoplastic-fatty acid relationship may be more complex. Our study is the first to scope intergeneration effects of nanoplastic on Antarctic krill lipid and fatty acid reserves. From this, we suggest directions for future research including long term exposures, multi-stressor scenarios and exploring other critical energy reserves such as proteins.
Authors: Rowlands, Emily, Galloway, Tamara, Cole, Matthew, Lewis, Ceri, Hacker, Christian, Peck, Victoria L. ORCID record for Victoria L. Peck, Thorpe, Sally ORCID record for Sally Thorpe, Blackbird, Sabena, Wolff, George A., Manno, Clara ORCID record for Clara Manno