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The effect of ecotoxicants on the aquatic food web and prey-predator relationships

Akkaş, Sara Banu
There is considerable need for higher-tier aquatic risk assessment and information on toxicant-induced molecular alterations in lower aquatic invertebrates. Thus the current study’s priorities were two-fold: a novel approach utilizing higher-tier ecotoxicity bioassay-guided ATR-FTIR (Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared) spectroscopy to better understand the impact of the presence of fish predation pressure – mimicked by predator-exuded info-chemicals – on cypermethrin or salinity toxicity to Daphnia pulex – key-stone species in lake ecosystems – and ultimately better assess toxicant-induced alterations at both organismal and molecular levels. This approach indicates that even low concentrations of cypermethrin/salinity had significant molecular and organismal effects on daphnids. Fish kairomone acted as a major factor affecting toxicant severity, interacting antagonistically below a threshold and synergistically above. Moreover, molecular ATR-FTIR spectroscopic results, clearly consistent with organismal responses, showed that both cypermethrin and salinity lead to decreased contributions of lipid and proteins to the investigated daphnid systems. It is further suggested that the action mechanism of the fish-exuded kairomone occurs via the lipid metabolism of Daphnia. Hence, infrared spectroscopic results enabled detection of early molecular alterations, whose effects might not always be observable at the organismal level. The results of this study clearly indicate that the simplistic nature of standard ecotoxicology tests hinders a precise judgment of threats imposed by chemicals of interest. Furthermore, it has been shown that ATR-FTIR spectroscopy has considerable potential for studies on daphnid responses to varying environmental conditions. Thus, this study presents a starting point for increasing the environmental realism of aquatic risk assessment.