Student: Krista Petersen, Undergraduate Student in Biology, Drake University
Research Mentor: Debora Christensen
The effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on growth and development in zebra finches
The research project I work on in Dr. Christensen’s lab at Drake University seeks to investigate the potential effects of exposure to plastics on multiple generations of zebra finch offspring. Such an effect begins with parental exposure (the F0 generation) to daily drinking water consumed from different types of plastic or glass containers and is likely to be epigenetic in nature; a transgenerational study is, therefore, necessary to determine whether such exposure is sufficient for these effects to exist.
We are interested in how this study relates to the effects of exposure to plastics in humans. Astronauts are specifically an interesting case as they are exposed to high levels of plastic through the foods and liquids they ingest while in space. As discussed on nasa.gov, plastic is commonly used in space to extend the storage potential of foods brought to space. Beyond use for preservation purposes, astronauts use plastic as bowls, cups, and utensils. As these astronauts are likely subjected to a large amount of endocrine disrupting chemicals through these products stored in plastic, similarly to the method in which we subjected the parental generation of zebra finches in the treatment group, they may potentially face adverse effects. Our study examines these potential transgenerational effects in zebra finches.