Multigenerational effects of antibiotic tetracycline on transcriptional responses of D. magna and its relationship to higher levels of biological organizations

Tetracycline is a commonly used antibiotic in aquaculture, veterinary and agriculture. Due to its widespread use, tetracycline is commonly found in our environment where it can harm other organisms. Here we studied the effects of tetracycline on the waterflea daphnia. We particularly focused on studying the long-term effects of tetracycline, which consists of three generations of daphnia exposed to tetracycline (from grandparents to grandchildren) at the molecular level. We observed effects of tetracycline in all generations particularly targeted the molting related genes, which are in daphnia also responsible for growth. We also observed that when exposing daphnia to different concentrations of tetracycline specific genes called vitellogenin were affected and these genes could be linked to effects on reproduction. Our results show that the effects of chemicals to different generations and to different concentrations are very different and that these effects cannot be neglected in the environmental risk assessment of tetracycline.


Scientific abstract

Given the risk of environmental pollution by pharmaceutical compounds and the effects of these compounds on exposed ecosystems, ecologically relevant and realistic assessments are required. However, many studies have been mostly focused on individual responses in a single generation exposed to one-effect concentration. Here, transcriptional responses of the crustacean Daphnia magna to the antibiotic tetracycline across multiple generations and effect concentrations were investigated. The results demonstrated that tetracycline induced different transcriptional responses of daphnids that were dependent on dose and generation. For example, reproduction-related expressed sequence tags (ESTs), including vitellogenin, were distinctly related to the dose-dependent tetracycline exposure, whereas multigenerational exposure induced significant change of molting-related ESTs such as cuticle protein. Sixty-five ESTs were shared in all contrasts, suggesting a conserved mechanism of tetracycline toxicity regardless of exposure concentration or time. Most of them were associated with general stress responses including translation, protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and oxidative phosphorylation. In addition, effects across the dose-response curve showed higher correlative connections among transcriptional, physiological, and individual responses than multigenerational effects. In the multigenerational exposure, the connectivity between adjacent generations decreased with increasing generation number. The results clearly highlight that exposure concentration and time trigger different mechanisms and functions, providing further evidence that multigenerational and dose-response effects cannot be neglected in environmental risk assessment.


Full reference (link)

Kim HY, Asselman J, Jeong TY, Yu S, De Schamphelaere KAC, Kim SD. 2017. Multigenerational effects of the antibiotic tetracycline on transcription levels of D. magna and its relationship to higher biological organizations. Environ Sci Technol. 51, 12898−12907.