Plastic Pieces Can Enter Our Ecosystem By Mosquitoes

Posted: Sep 22 2018, 12:33pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Plastic Pieces can Enter our Ecosystem by Mosquitoes
Credit: British firm Oxitec

Scientists have potentially uncovered a new way that microplastics could damage the environment.

Mosquitoes are known to carry a variety of deadly pathogens and cause infectious diseases. Now, for the first time, researchers have found direct evidence that mosquitoes and many other flying insects are contaminating our environment by eating microplastics in polluted waters and adding them into the food chain.

Researchers from University of Reading observed mosquito larvae eating microscopic plastic beads and then carrying them through the air. They also found that these tiny bits of plastic remain in the insect's body even after they became adult and could be transferred to whatever eats that mosquito like birds, bats and spiders.

“We were just looking at mosquitoes as an example but there are lots of insects that live in water and have the same life-cycle with larvae that eat things in water and then emerge as adults,” said lead author Amanda Callaghan,a biological scientist at University of Reading. "It's basically another pathway for pollution that hadn't been considered previously.”

Every years, millions of tons of plastic made its way into the world's oceans and a lot of that trash is in the form of microplastics, less than five millimeters long bits of plastic. These plastic pieces can be harmful to our ocean and marine life. Many recent studies have shown that plastics and microplastics have a devastating effect on marine environments and the rise in plastic pollution is killing many species. New study suggests that plastic particles can spread even further by air via mosquitoes and other flying insects.

“The implication is that you can have plastics at the bottom of the pond that are now going up into the air and being eaten by spiders and bats and animals that normally wouldn’t have access to that plastic.” Callaghan said.

The process, however, has not been observed in natural environment. It has been tracked in laboratory setups where conditions can be easily monitored. Researchers fed fluorescent plastic microbeads to mosquito larvae in lab conditions and observed the insects throughout their life cycles. Researchers spotted glowing beads inside mosquitoes’ body even if they grew up.

“Our study was a proof of concept in the laboratory," said Callaghan. “One of the next steps will be to sample lakes with plastics and mosquitoes to measure this."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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