Study finds that nanoparticles translocate to gonads of model organism

Nanoplastic particles can move from one generation to the next, new research on roundworms shows.

Previous nanoplastic pollution studies had only looked at short-term exposure or used nanoplastic concentrations much higher than those actually found in the environment. Now scientists in China have investigated nanoplastic pollution in more realistic situations.

The team cultured model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny transparent worm, in a growth medium spiked with nanopolystyrene particles. Fluorescent tags on the nanopolystyrene particles allowed the team to track where these particles went. They saw that the particles accumulated within the worm’s reproductive organs. Also, progeny of the originally exposed worms, grown in an environment free of polystyrene, had nanopolystyrene particles in their intestines. Together, these findings indicate that long-term nanoplastic exposure can result in transgenerational complications.