Daphnia in Microplastics

Student: Zarina Akbary
Mentor: Rob Frawley
All 2018-2019 Projects

Brief Description: Zarina cultured a population of daphnia in fresh water and another in a tank contaminated with environmentally-realistic concentrations of microplastics to observe differences in size and fertility.


Studies on the effects of microplastics on aquatic life have found that microplastics exposure reduced fertility and growth in organisms such as Daphnia magna. However, researchers have criticized those studies for using experimental concentrations of microplastics that were orders of magnitude higher than environmentally observed concentrations and particles that were orders of magnitude smaller than what has been observed in the wild.

For this experiment, we aimed to observe the effects of microplastics on the population, growth of specific features and fertility of Daphnia magna over the course of three weeks (considerably longer than average gestation of daphnia, allowing for observation of offspring) and compare them to a negative control.

If microplastics at environmentally-realistic concentrations do have a biological effect on Daphnia magna, then we expect to see statistically significant differences in growth and development between the experimental group and the control.