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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol 2022 Jul 01;269:111210. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2022.111210.
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Microplastics ingestion induces plasticity in digestive morphology in larvae of Xenopus laevis.

Ruthsatz K , Domscheit M , Engelkes K , Vences M .

Global changes in temperature, predator introductions, and pollution might challenge animals by altering food conditions. A fast-growing source of environmental pollution are microplastics. If ingested with the natural food source, microplastics act as artificial fibers that reduce food quality by decreasing nutrient and energy density with possible ramifications for growth and development. Animals might cope with altered food conditions with digestive plasticity. We examined experimentally whether larvae of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) exhibit digestive morphology plasticity (i.e., gut length, mass, and diameter) in response to microplastics ingestion. As natural systems contain non-digestible particles similar in size and shape to microplastics, we included cellulose as a natural fiber control group. Gut length and mass increased in response to microplastics and cellulose ingestion indicating that both types of fibers induced digestive plasticity. Body mass and body condition were similar across experimental groups, indicating that larvae fully compensated for low nutrient and energy density by developing longer intestines. The ability of a species to respond plastically to environmental variation, as X. laevis responded, indicates that this species might have the potential to cope with new conditions during global change, although it is uncertain whether this potential may be reduced in a multi-stressor environment.

PubMed ID: 35398256
Article link: Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: cope