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Exposure to pesticides can have detrimental effects on aquatic communities of non-target species. Populations can evolve tolerance to pesticides which may rescue them from extinction. However, the evolution of tolerance does not always occur and insights in the underlying mechanisms are scarce. One understudied mechanism to obtain pesticide tolerance in hosts are shifts toward pesticide-degrading bacteria in their microbiome. We carried out experimental evolution trials where replicated experimental populations of the water flea Daphnia magna were exposed to the pesticide chlorpyrifos or a solvent control, after which we performed acute toxicity assays to evaluate the evolution of chlorpyrifos tolerance. Additionally, we quantified changes in the microbiota community composition of whole body and gut samples to assess which sample type best reflected the pesticide tolerance of the Daphnia host. As expected, chlorpyrifos-selected clones became more tolerant to chlorpyrifos as shown by the higher EC5048 h (36% higher) compared with the control clones. This was associated with shifts in the microbiome composition whereby the abundance of known organophosphate-degrading bacterial genera increased on average ~4 times in the chlorpyrifos-selected clones. Moreover, the abundances of several genera, including the organophosphate-degrading bacteria Pseudomonas, Flavobacterium and Bacillus, were positively correlated with the EC5048 h of the host populations. These shifts in bacterial genera were similar in magnitude in whole body and gut samples, yet the total abundance of organophosphate-degrading bacteria was ~6 times higher in the whole body samples, suggesting that the gut is not the only body part where pesticide degradation by the microbiome occurs. Our results indicate that the microbiome is an important mediator of the development of tolerance to pesticides in Daphnia. Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Lizanne Janssens, Marlies Van de Maele, Vienna Delnat, Charlotte Theys, Shinjini Mukherjee, Luc De Meester, Robby Stoks. Evolution of pesticide tolerance and associated changes in the microbiome in the water flea Daphnia magna. Ecotoxicology and environmental safety. 2022 Jul 15;240:113697

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PMID: 35653979

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