Ecotoxicological effects of new generation pollutants (nanoparticles, amoxicillin and white musk) on freshwater and marine phytoplankton species


Phytoplankton occupies a key trophic level in aquatic ecosystems. Chemical impacts on these primary producers can disrupt the integrity of an entire ecosystem. Two freshwater (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata-Ps and Scenedesmus obliquus-S) and three marine (Phaeodactylum tricornutum-P, Isochrysis galbana-I, Tetraselmis suecica-T) microalgae species were exposed to dilutions of four chemicals: nanoparticles (n-TiO2, n-ZnO), amoxicillin (antibiotic), and white musk (personal care fragrance) to determine the half maximal effective concentration (EC50) after 72 h of exposure under standardized and controlled environmental conditions. Cell cultures were exposed to EC50 to determine sublethal effects (72 h) based on biochemical (chlorophylls a, b, c), molecular (changes in outer cell wall structure), and morphological alterations. We report for the first time EC50 values for nanoparticles in not standardized species (S, I and T) and for amoxicillin and white musk in all tested species. Standardized species (Ps and P) were less sensitive than non-standardized in some cases. Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy showed a marked spectral alteration (from 10.44% to 90.93%) of treated cultures compared to negative controls; however, principal component analysis disclosed no differences in molecular alteration between the five microalgae species or the two aquatic habitats considered. There was a significant decrease in chlorophylls content in all species exposed to EC50 compared to controls (Kruskal Wallis test; p < 0.05). There was a significant increase in cell-size (Mann-Whitney U test; p < 0.05) in I, P and T exposed to white musk and S exposed to amoxicillin. Findings highlight ecotoxicological risks from new generation pollutants for primary producers in aquatic ecosystems.

Authors: Andrea Broccoli, Serena Anselmi, Andrea Cavallo, Vittoria Ferrari, Daniela Prevedelli, Paolo Pastorino, Monia Renzi
; Full Source: Chemosphere 2021 Sep;279:130623. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.130623.