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Contributed by Nancy Pierce on 09/25/2013
William Brogan III, Biology ’07
"Safe and submerged: How aquatic plants buffer freshwater communities from contaminants"
Everyone is welcome to attend!
An emerging concern in ecology and toxicology is understanding the factors that can mitigate or exacerbate the environmental effects of anthropogenic contaminants. For my dissertation research, I have examined the mitigating influence that submerged aquatic plants have on the direct and indirect effects of insecticides in aquatic communities. I have discovered that several species of globally common submerged plants can strongly reduce the toxicity of the popular insecticide malathion to sensitive aquatic animals, but that this ability is density-dependent. Further, I have demonstrated that the mitigating impact of submerged plants on malathion's direct toxicity has important consequences for the community-level effects of insecticide exposure. I have also identified that the mechanism by which submerged plants mitigate malathion's effects is driven by changes in water chemistry resulting from plant photosynthesis, not by removal of the insecticide from water via sorption as current mitigation paradigms suggest. Finally, I examined the ability of submerged plants to mitigate the toxicity of nine different common insecticides and found that mitigation was highly insecticide specific. This research has the potential to advance current toxicological models and provide a powerful tool for mitigating the environmental effects of a common anthropogenic contaminant on aquatic communities.
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