Microplastics have been recognized as an aquatic pollutant for more than a decade. However, many of the effects of microplastics exposure–be it from the concentrated chemicals plastics sponge up out of the environment or the ramifications of ingestion by aquatic organisms–have not been fully investigated. The Meek Lab, along with our amazing collaborators Kennedy Bucci and Dr. Chelsea Rochman from the U of Toronto, are working on a project determining the effects of microplastics (both pristine and environmental) on different developmental stages of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas).
I will be using genomics tools to determine the effect of microplastics on gene transcription and DNA methylation across two generations of fish to address the following questions:
1) does the magnitude of the effect of microplastics on gene transcription vary with concentration and/or life stage,
2) if there are changes in DNA methylation patterns attributed to the microplastics, are these transgenerational, and
3) how much of the observed effect is due to the exposure to the pristine microplastic versus the marine plastic containing sorbed chemicals?