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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame-retardants which can bioaccumulate and biomagnify and are found worldwide despite their banned usage in some countries. In recent years, the possibility that PBDEs may disrupt endocrine functions in vertebrates has been well investigated, but little attention has been paid to the endocrine disrupting potential in aquatic invertebrates. The current study aimed to investigate whether PBDEs affect molting in neonatal Daphnia magna. Prior to molting studies, 48 h LC50 values were tested for several environmentally prevalent PBDEs: PBDEs-28, -47, -99, -100 and -209. The 48 h LC50s determined were 110.7, 7.9, 2.6, and 11.1 μg/L for PBDEs-28, -47, -99, and -100, respectively, but the highest concentration of PBDEs-209 tested (2.5 mg/L) did not affect survival at 48 h. Sublethal concentrations of these were used to investigate their potential effects on molting, assessed by the time taken to reach 4 molts. Molting studies found that PBDE-28 at 12 μg/L significantly increased the time it took to complete 4 molts. PBDE-47 at 20 μg/L inhibited daphnid molting initially but such an inhibitory effect disappeared with the prolongation of exposure due to the death of sensitive individuals. No other PBDEs affected molting at the concentrations tested, while still maintaining relatively high survival rates. In conclusion, this study found that PBDEs-28 and -47 can delay molting at μg/L concentrations, which raises concern for disrupted molting in crustaceans exposed to PBDEs.


Rebecca Davies, Enmin Zou. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers disrupt molting in neonatal Daphnia magna. Ecotoxicology (London, England). 2012 Jul;21(5):1371-80

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PMID: 22476648

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