The impact of nanoplastic on Antarctic krill embryonic development in current and future acidified conditions of the Southern Ocean

, Rowlands Emily, Galloway Tamara, Cole Matthew, Lewis Ceri, Peck Victoria, Thorpe Sally, Manno Clara.

Antarctic krill (Euphausia. Superba) are amongst the most important and abundant filter-feeding metazoans in the Southern Ocean. The negative effects of rapid warming and ocean acidification (OA) have already been acknowledged for the species. Less explored is the impact of increasing plastic pollution, which the Southern Ocean has failed to avoid. Antarctic krill might be of increased risk of exposure to plastic particulates due to the ability of sea-ice to act as a sink for plastic particulates coupled with krill's reliance on sea-ice, though may have diminished coping mechanisms for reasons such as weak genetic variability. Nanoplastic, the smallest form of plastic debris, is predicted to be the most hazardous yet a paucity of studies explore its potential toxicological impacts on this keystone species. The potential multi-stressor effects of plastic particulates coupled with the climate stressors exasperated in the polar regions are also unexplored. Here, we investigate the single and combined effects of NP (spherical, aminated (NP-NH2), yellow-green fluorescent polystyrene nanoparticles) and OA (pCO2-manipulated seawater, pH 7.7) on the embryonic development of eggs produced by Antarctic Krill. Organisms were collected in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Eggs from a single female were incubated at 0.5 °C with three treatments: with 0.16 μm nanoplastic spheres, in acidified conditions, plus with the combined treatment of nanoplastic (0.16μm) and acidification. We present results to date on this study enhancing our understanding of the potential impact of plastic pollution on Krill populations, at critical yet potentially most vulnerable embryonic life stages, in their current and predicted future environment. This is acknowledged to be a critical future research direction since addressing the toxicology of plastic particulates in singularity will fail to mimic future multi-stress conditions.

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