Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Carol Adrianne Smith - Morgan State University
Co-Author(s): N. Drichko, The John Hopkins University Astronomy and Physics lab, Baltimore, MD C. Fan, Morgan State University Baltimore, MDM. Loranzano, The John Hopkins University Astronomy and Physics lab, Baltimore, MD S. Pramanik, Morgan State University Baltimore, MD
The Atlantic Bay nettle (Chrysaora chesapeakei) is a predominant jellyfish part of the Cnidaria phylum in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. They are considered a keystone species as they exert top-down control on zooplankton via predation in the estuarine ecosystem during the summer and early fall seasons. We hypothesize that microplastics are present in C. chesapeakei. During the summers of 2021 and 2022, a total of forty C. chesapeakei specimens were collected from Patuxent River, Maryland, using plankton nets (200 µm mesh size) and 100-ounce glass jars. Two to three milliliters of aliquoted bay nettle samples were filtered through a glass-filtered apparatus and then digested using 30 % H2O2 at 60°C for 6 hrs. The samples were analyzed using Raman spectroscopy, Rhodamine B staining, and Nile red staining. Our preliminary results suggested the bay nettle samples contained weathered microplastic (MPs) sizes ranging from 0.32 µm to 16.0 µm and, on average, 30 MPs per milliliter of jellyfish. These MPs had lost their original shapes. However, polyethylene (PE) and polyvinyl benzoate (PVB) are two major types of MPs that accumulate in C. chesapeakei. The surface area of the microplastic samples obtained from the C. chesapeakei samples was also found to absorb the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene and benzene. Our results represent the first such finding of MPs in C. chesapeakei and demonstrate that microplastics could be ingested by this species directly or indirectly through trophic transfer. Our findings further inspire future examination of microplastics as vectors of contaminants through the aquatic food web.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation grant from Dr. Chunlei Fan of Morgan State UniversityNational Science Foundation grant under Dr. Drichko, a lab at the Johns Hopkins University.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Chunlei Fan, Chunlei.Fan@morgan.edu
Role: I conducted the collection, storage, and aliquoting of the jellyfish, the Raman Spectroscopy and the Rhodamine B staining, and Nile red staining of the samples. Hence the material and methods of the research.