Development of an acute toxicity test with the tropical marine amphipod Parhyale hawaiensis

Ecotoxicology. 2018 Mar;27(2):103-108. doi: 10.1007/s10646-017-1875-3. Epub 2017 Nov 15.


There is a lack of suitable tropical marine species for ecotoxicity tests. An attractive model organism for ecotoxicology is the marine amphipod Parhyale hawaiensis, which is already a model for genetic and developmental studies. This species is widespread, can tolerate changes in salinity, is easy to handle and is representative of circumtropical regions. The aim of this work was to describe standardized procedures for laboratory husbandry, define conditions for acute toxicity tests, and to provide acute toxicity test results for some reference toxicants. Culturing conditions for the organism in the laboratory were established in reconstituted seawater (30 ± 2 salinity), 24 ± 2 °C, photoperiod 12/12 h light/dark. Acute toxicity test procedures were developed for 96 h-exposure time, and organisms at ages <7 days. The miniaturized version of the test, based on 96-well microplates and 200 µL of exposure media provided consistent results compared to larger exposure volumes (80-mL vials protocol). Acute toxicity of Ag, Cd, Cu, Zn and ammonia determined for P. hawaiensis were consistent to previous results for other marine amphipods. We conclude that P. hawaiensis can be successfully cultured in standardized conditions and be effectively used in acute toxicity testing. Further development and use of this model will enable standardized and reproducible ecotoxicology investigations in understudied and vulnerable tropical marine ecosystems.

Keywords: Ammonia; Culture conditions; Metal toxicity; Microplate test; Miniaturization.

MeSH terms

  • Amphipoda / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Ecotoxicology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Seawater
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute / methods*