Examining effects of ontogenic microplastic transference on Culex mosquito mortality and adult weight

Rana Al-Jaibachi, Ross N. Cuthbert, Amanda Callaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)
496 Downloads (Pure)


Microplastics (MPs) continue to proliferate and pollute aquatic and terrestrial environments globally. The impacts of MP pollution on ecosystems and their functioning remain poorly quantified, with most research hitherto focusing on marine ecosystems. There is a paucity of information on the impacts of MPs in freshwater ecosystems, despite the broad range of pathways through which MPs can proliferate and the extensive range of species which actively ingest MPs in these systems. Of particular interest are organisms that bridge aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The present study thus examines the uptake, ontogenic transference and effect of different concentrations (0, 50, 100 and 200 MPs mL-1) and sizes (2 and 15 µm) of polystyrene MPs between aquatic and terrestrial life stages of Culex pipiens complex mosquitoes. Both 2 and 15 µm MPs transferred from the aquatic larval to terrestrial adult stage of Culex mosquitoes, and uptake correlated tightly with initial exposure concentration. However, neither concentration nor size of MPs significantly influenced mortality rates between the aquatic larval and terrestrial adult stage. There was also no impact of MPs on the weight of emerging mosquito adults. We thus demonstrate that MPs can be transferred ontogenically through organisms with complex life histories, presenting a potential pathway for dispersal of MPs into terrestrial environments. We also show that MPs exposure does not affect mortality rates between life stages of freshwater Culex populations. This suggests that MPs do not impact nutritional uptakes, with unhampered development to adulthood facilitating subsequent dispersal of MPs aerially and between freshwater and terrestrial habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-876
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019


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