Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Animals that eat plastic?

Have you seen this? A video just released by Yellowstone National Park talks about how some heat-loving microorganisms can break down plastics. Pretty cool.


Not so cool was the recent finding published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences that Astrangia poculata coral polyps are eating microplastics instead of brine shrimp eggs…on purpose. In the lab, the team were able to observe the corals consuming nearly twice as much microplastics over eggs. The problem with this novel snack is that it can introduce the coral to bacterial infections. In fact, in the lab, researchers coated some microplastics with bacteria and found that the bacteria stayed in the animal’s digestive cavity even after they spit out the microplastics and infected corals died within 2 weeks of exposure. Needless to say, these findings are concerning.



Yellowstone National Park

Rotjan RD, Sharp KH, Gauthier AE, Yelton R, Lopez EMB, Carilli J, Kagan JC, Urban-Rich J. Patterns, dynamics and consequences of microplastic ingestion by the temperate coral, Astrangia poculata. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 286(1905): 2019.

Categories: Climate Change, Diet and Exercise, Extreme Animals, Ocean Life, Urbanization

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