Transgenerational Effects of Toxicants: An Extension of the Daphnia 21-day Chronic Assay?

  • B. B. Castro
  • A. R. Freches
  • M. Rodrigues
  • B. Nunes
  • S. C. Antunes


The assessment of transgenerational effects should be incorporated in standard chronic toxicity protocols for the sake of a realistic extrapolation of contaminant effects to the population level. We propose a simple add-on to the standard 21-day chronic Daphnia magna assay, allowing the assessment of the reproductive performance of the offspring (F1 generation) born from the first clutch of the parental (F0) generation. The extended generational assay was performed simultaneously with the standard reproduction assay. With this design, we evaluated the lethal, reproductive, and transgenerational effects of four widespread and extensively used substances: a biocide/anti-fouling (copper sulphate), an industrial oxidizing agent (potassium dichromate), a pharmaceutical (paracetamol), and a quaternary ammonium compound (benzalkonium chloride). Benzalkonium chloride was the most toxic in terms of lethality, whereas paracetamol, copper sulphate, and potassium dichromate caused deleterious effects in the reproductive performance of exposed D. magna. Adverse effects in the fitness of the daughter (F1) generation were observed in the case of maternal exposure to paracetamol and copper sulphate, although they were not very pronounced. These findings highlight the usefulness of our approach and reinforce the view—shared by other authors—of the need for a generalised formal assessment of the transgenerational effects of pollutants.



This research was partially supported by the Strategic Funding UID/Multi/04423/2013 through national funds provided by FCT—Foundation for Science and Technology and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in the framework of the programme PT2020. Sara Antunes is recipient of individual post-doctoral grant (SFRH/BPD/109951/2015) by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). Bruno Nunes was supported by FCT (Researcher Contract IF/01744/2013).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. B. Castro
    • 1
  • A. R. Freches
    • 2
  • M. Rodrigues
    • 2
  • B. Nunes
    • 3
  • S. C. Antunes
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, CBMA (Centro de Biologia Molecular e Ambiental)Universidade do MinhoBragaPortugal
  2. 2.Departamento de BiologiaFaculdade de Ciências da Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Departamento de Biologia, CESAM (Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar)Universidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal
  4. 4.CIIMAR (Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental)Universidade do PortoPortoPortugal

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