Metabolomic responses to sublethal contaminant exposure in neonate and adult Daphnia magna

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2017 Apr;36(4):938-946. doi: 10.1002/etc.3604. Epub 2016 Oct 5.


The use of consumer products and pharmaceuticals that act as contaminants entering waterways through runoff and wastewater effluents alters aquatic ecosystem health. Traditional toxicological endpoints may underestimate the toxicity of contaminants, as lethal concentrations are often orders of magnitude higher than those found within freshwater ecosystems. While newer techniques examine the metabolic responses of sublethal contaminant exposure, there has been no direct comparison with ontogeny in Daphnia. It was hypothesized that Daphnia magna would have distinct metabolic changes after 3 different sublethal contaminant exposures, because of differences in the toxic mode of action and ontogeny. To test this hypothesis, the proton nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomic profiles were measured in D. magna aged day 0 and 18 after exposure to 28% of the lethal concentration of 50% of organisms tested (LC50) of atrazine, propranolol, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) for 48 h. Principal component analysis revealed significant separation of contaminants from the control daphnids in both neonates and adults exposed to propranolol and PFOS. In contrast, atrazine exposure caused separation from the controls in only the adult D. magna. Minimal ontogenetic changes in the targeted metabolites were seen after exposure to propranolol. For both atrazine and PFOS exposures ontogeny exhibited unique changes in the targeted metabolites. These results indicate that, depending on the contaminant studied, neonates and adults respond uniquely to sublethal contaminant exposure. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:938-946. © 2016 SETAC.

Keywords: 1H nuclear magnetic resonance; Atrazine; Environmental metabolomics; Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid; Propranolol.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Daphnia / drug effects*
  • Daphnia / growth & development
  • Daphnia / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Fresh Water / chemistry
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Metabolome / drug effects*
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid