In June 2022, Hannah Collins and Tyler Griffin from the Ward Environmental Physiology Lab went to Buffalo, NY, to perform research on the gut microbiomes of freshwater quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis). The three-day trip involved collecting these invasive mussels from Lake Erie with the help of Brian Haas at the Buffalo State Great Lakes Center field station. The goal of the project, funded by an NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation grant, was to sample mussel gut microbes before and after defecation with the goal of distinguishing between microbes that live inside the mussels and other microbes that were simply passing through. This work serves as preliminary research for the larger goal of investigating the feasibility of using freshwater mussels to remove microplastics from freshwater systems and co-concentration them with plastic-degrading bacteria.
DMS Kayla Mladinich shows that bivalves can reject microplastics
8 November 2022. DMS is happy to share the latest publication by PhD student Kayla Mladinich, showing the surprising but good news that blue mussels and oysters appear not to ingest all microplastic particles floating in the water.
By Kayla Mladinich.
Oysters and mussels are filter feeders that draw particles in from the surrounding water to be eaten. These animals can select which particles are eaten or rejected depending on factors such as particle size and surface properties. This study was performed to determine what kinds of microplastics will be consumed or rejected by oysters and mussels. Both species rejected larger microplastics more than smaller microplastics and did not differentiate between different types of plastic polymers. The results suggest that oysters and mussels will not ingest all microplastics that they are exposed to in the natural environment!
- Mladinich, K., Holohan, B. A., Shumway, S. E., Brown, K., Ward, J. E. (2022). Determining the properties that govern selective ingestion and egestion of microplastics by the Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica). Environmental Science & Technology (3 Nov 2022)