Main content area

Joint effects of gamma radiation and cadmium on subcellular-, individual- and population-level endpoints of the green microalga Raphidocelis subcapitata

Bradshaw, Clare, Meseh, Dina A., Alasawi, Hiba, Qiang, Ma, Snoeijs-Leijonmalm, Pauline, Nascimento, Francisco J.A.
Aquatic toxicology 2019 v.211 pp. 217-226
Selenastrum capricornutum, antioxidants, cadmium, catalase, ecotoxicology, experimental design, food webs, gamma radiation, lipid peroxidation, lutein, microalgae, models, prediction, primary productivity, thiamin, toxic substances, toxicity, uncertainty
Interpreting and predicting the combined effects of toxicants in the environment is an important challenge in ecotoxicology. How such effects are connected across different levels of biological organisation is an additional matter of uncertainty. Such knowledge gaps are particularly prominent with regards to how ionising radiation interacts with contaminants. We assessed the response of twelve endpoints at the subcellular, individual and population level in a green microalga when exposed singly and jointly to gamma radiation and cadmium (Cd). We used a fully factorial experimental design where observed effects were compared to those predicted by the Independent Action (IA) model for mixture toxicity to determine whether they deviated from additivity. Subcellular endpoints (e.g., catalase, thiamine diphosphate, xanthophyll cycle pigments) showed an increased antioxidant and/or photoprotective response. However, our results indicate that this protection was not sufficient to prevent lipid peroxidation, which also increased with dose. At ecologically relevant doses, most interactions between gamma radiation and Cd regarding subcellular-, individual- and population-level endpoints were additive as predicted by the IA model. However, exposure to binary mixtures displayed antagonistic interactions between gamma radiation and Cd at the higher end of the tested dose spectrum. No correlations were observed between subcellular endpoints and higher-level endpoints, but there were linkages between individual and population endpoints. Our results suggest that antagonistic interactions between gamma radiation and Cd can occur at higher doses and that these interactions seem to disseminate from subcellular and individual to population level. Possible consequences for aquatic primary production and food-web interactions are discussed.