Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Climate Change
Room: Private Dining
Kailey Shingleton - Howard Payne
If reef-building coral species are exposed to micro plastics in the water system, will the coral filter out the micro plastics? This research is important because it can aid in the need to protect coral reefs. It could also open doors to find new, natural ways to remove micro plastics from the water system (Bednarz et al., 2021). Polyethylene micro plastic particles were used to study micro plastic accumulation patterns in reef-building corals. Black PE was used to make it easier to visually identify the particles in the coral tissues and skeletons. The particles were unevenly shaped and displayed a rough surface structure, similar to natural secondary micro plastics. The micro plastic particles used were comparable to the size of food particles commonly consumed by reef-building corals (Reichert et al., 2021). After 18 months, the coral samples were all snap-frozen with liquid nitrogen. Coral skeletons were dissolved in 5.5% hydrochloric acid for 18 hours, and particles were recovered through sieving. Samples were then centrifuged (479 g for 10 min) so that the positive buoyant micro plastic particles were floating on the surface. Micro plastics appeared in all samples that were studied, both in the continuous and the pulse treatment, and in both tissues and skeletons. Particle numbers were 15 times higher in the skeleton than in the tissue after 18 months of uninterrupted micro plastic exposure. Pulse exposure led to a greater accumulation of micro plastic particles into the skeleton compared to the tissue (Reichert et al., 2021). This research suggests that the coral was successful in filtering micro plastics out of the water. Future research plans on answering if different colored micro plastics had any effect on the amount ingested by the coral (Bednarz et al., 2021). Keywords: Coral, micro plastics Acknowledgements: This review was supported by Howard Payne University. We thank the Dean of the School of Math and Science Dr. Clarkson, Biological Science Department Chair Dr. Hutchins, and Biology Professor Dr. Hinton
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Howard Payne University
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tanisha Hinton, email@example.com
Role: I did not run any physical experiments, but I compiled the articles used myself.