Forsøksdyr: Uptake, distribution and effects of microplastics and associated chemicals in quails.

Godkjenningsdato 10.09.2020

Godkjenningsperiode 26.10.2020-31.12.2020

The purpose of this study is to investigate the uptake, distribution and effects of microplastics and associated chemicals in Japanese quails (Cortunix japonica) as model species for wild seabirds. Ocean plastic pollution is a big problem for seabirds provoking entanglements and causing health risk due to plastic ingestion. However, very little is known about the toxicological effects that plastic ingestion can cause to birds.

In this experiment, we aim to expose quails to microplastics in two different sizes and for two different time exposures. These microplastics have been recollected from the field, thus representing an environmentally relevant exposure experiment. To conduct the experiment, we will raise eighty birds from hatching to 6 weeks of age. The quails will be randomly distributed in five experimental groups, one control group and four exposure groups. Quails from the exposure groups will be exposed to microplastics of different sizes (3 mm or powder form) from 7 days-old until they reach 3 weeks old or 6 weeks old. Biometric measurements will be monitored during all the experiment. Blood sampling in the middle of the experiment, 3 weeks, and after euthanasia, 6 weeks, will allow us to study inflammatory response, biochemical parameters and reproductive hormones. Liver, kidney, gonads, preen gland and gut will be dissected and stored for further chemical, metabolic and histopathological analysis. We will evaluate leaching and distribution of chemicals associated to plastic in birds’ tissues as well as the effects on development, metabolism, reproductive hormones, inflammatory responses and tissues alterations.

The plastic amount that will be administrated to quails is not expected to cause symptomatic diseases. Procedures used in this experiment are categorized as mild. We will, however, monitor quails daily for signs of diseases or distress using a criteria sheet attached to this application. In the unlikely event that the quails develop mild disease symptoms or appear distress, we will terminate the experiment immediately. Due to the experience of the group with similar experiments in quails, we have been able to refine the methods of exposure, bird welfare and euthanasia as much as possible.

The results from this study will generate novel data on the effects of microplastics in birds and the distribution and effects of associated chemicals, which are totally needed to understand the impacts that plastic ingestion is causing to wild birds worldwide. We will compare the effects caused by the ingestion of microplastics of different sizes and at two different times exposures. Further, this study pioneers the detection of bisphenols, phthalates metabolites and UV benzophenones associated to microplastic ingestion in birds. Overall, results of this experiment will allow us to gain new knowledge of how plastic ingestion is affecting bird’s health status.