Polyethylene microplastics are ingested and induce biochemical changes in Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae) freshwater insect larvae


  • Guilherme Malafaia Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia Goiano - Campus Urutaí (Brasil)
  • Thiarlen Marinho da Luz
  • Abraão Tiago Batista Guimarães
  • Amanda Pereira da Costa Araújo




Although microplastics’ (MPs) toxicity has been reported in several aquatic and terrestrial organisms, the knowledge about how these pollutants can affect insects at the early developmental stage remains incipient. Thus, the aim of this study was to use Culex quinquefasciatus larvae as a model system to test the hypothesis that, besides accumulating in animals, polyethylene microplastics (PE MPs) lead to biochemical changes predictive of nutritional impacts, as well as induce oxidative stress, redox state imbalance, and neurotoxicity in them. Our results have indicated that short exposure to PE MPs (5 days) at the environmental concentration of 4.24 x 106 particles m-3 induced changes suggesting damage to energy metabolism such as reduced total proteins, total soluble carbohydrates, and triglycerides levels. In addition, increased thiobarbituric acid reactive species, in association with reduced total glutathione and DPPH radical scavenging activity (%) have suggested an imbalance between oxide-reducing agents and antioxidant defense system, induced by pollutant. On the other hand, increased acetylcholinesterase activity has suggested the neurotoxic effect of PE MPs. Finally, PE MPs have accumulated in the larvae, and it may have been a triggering factor for the observed changes. Thus, our study has confirmed the potential of C. quinquefasciatus larvae to act as vector of MPs in different ecosystems and helped improving the knowledge about how PE MPs can affect their development and lead to losses in different ecological functions of this species.






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