The Fate of Microplastics Ingested by Gryllodes sigillatusPublic Deposited
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Plastic pollution has become a major concern in almost every natural environment. As plastics enter an environment, they undergo a degradation process and can become microplastics (MPs; plastics smaller than 5 mm). Thus far, most MPs research has focused on aquatic, rather than terrestrial environments, and standardized methods of plastic extraction and quantification from animals living in the latter are needed. For my thesis, I aimed to understand the fates of MPs ingested by the generalist insect, Gryllodes sigillatus. In chapter 2, I developed a new, clearly laid out protocol on how MPs can be extracted and characterized within a laboratory setting after they have been ingested by an animal. In chapter 3, I used this method to investigate the effects of the cricket digestive system on ingested MPs, and found that crickets radically physically degrade microplastics and may therefore serve as a path for plastic transformation in natural environments.
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