• Use of bioassays and biomarkers in Daphnia magna to assess the effect of pharmaceutical residuals in freshwater ecosystems
  • Varano, Valentina <1982>


  • BIO/07 Ecologia


  • Widespread occurrence of pharmaceuticals residues has been reported in aquatic ecosystems. However, their toxic effects on aquatic biota remain unclear. Generally, the acute toxicity has been assessed in laboratory experiments, while chronic toxicity studies have rarely been performed. Of importance appears also the assessment of mixture effects, since pharmaceuticals never occur in waters alone. The aim of the present work is to evaluate acute and chronic toxic response in the crustacean Daphnia magna exposed to single pharmaceuticals and mixtures. We tested fluoxetine, a SSRI widely prescribed as antidepressant, and propranolol, a non selective ╬▓-adrenergic receptor-blocking agent used to treat hypertension. Acute immobilization and chronic reproduction tests were performed according to OECD guidelines 202 and 211, respectively. Single chemicals were first tested separately. Toxicity of binary mixtures was then assessed using a fixed ratio experimental design with concentrations based on Toxic Units. The conceptual model of Concentration Addition was adopted in this study, as we assumed that the mixture effect mirrors the sum of the single substances for compounds having similar mode of action. The MixTox statistical method was applied to analyze the experimental results. Results showed a significant deviation from CA model that indicated antagonism between chemicals in both the acute and the chronic mixture tests. The study was integrated assessing the effects of fluoxetine on a battery of biomarkers. We wanted to evaluate the organism biological vulnerability caused by low concentrations of pharmaceutical occurring in the aquatic environment. We assessed the acetylcholinesterase and glutathione s-transferase enzymatic activities and the malondialdehyde production. No treatment induced significant alteration of biomarkers with respect to the control. Biological assays and the MixTox model application proved to be useful tools for pharmaceutical risk assessment. Although promising, the application of biomarkers in Daphnia magna needs further elucidation.


  • 2014-05-05


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Varano, Valentina (2014) Use of bioassays and biomarkers in Daphnia magna to assess the effect of pharmaceutical residuals in freshwater ecosystems , [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze ambientali: tutela e gestione delle risorse naturali , 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6372.