Effects of antidepressant exposure on aquatic communities assessed by a combination of morphological identification, functional measurements, environmental DNA metabarcoding and bioassays

Lara Schuijt, Jasper van Smeden, Chantal van Drimmelen, Laura Buijse, Dailing Wu, Marie Claire Boerwinkel, Dick Belgers, Arrienne Matser, Ivo Roessink, Ineke Heikamp-de Jong, Kevin Beentjes, Krijn Trimbos, Hauke Smidt, Paul Van den Brink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The antidepressant fluoxetine is frequently detected in aquatic ecosystems, yet the effects on aquatic communities and ecosystems are still largely unknown. Therefore the aim of this study is to assess the effects of the long-term application of fluoxetine on key components of aquatic ecosystems including macroinvertebrate-, zooplankton-, phytoplankton- and microbial communities and organic matter decomposition by using traditional and non-traditional assessment methods. For this, we exposed 18 outdoor mesocosms (water volume of 1530 L and 10 cm of sediment) to five different concentrations of fluoxetine (0.2, 2, 20 and 200 μg/L) for eight weeks, followed by an eight-week recovery period. We quantified population and community effects by morphological identification, environmental DNA metabarcoding, in vitro and in vivo bioassays and measured organic matter decomposition as a measure of ecosystem functioning. We found effects of fluoxetine on bacterial, algal, zooplankton and macroinvertebrate communities and decomposition rates, mainly for the highest (200 μg/L) treatment. Treatment-related decreases in abundances were found for damselfly larvae (NOEC of 0.2 μg/L) and Sphaeriidae bivalves (NOEC of 20 μg/L), whereas Asellus aquaticus increased in abundance (NOEC <0.2 μg/L). Fluoxetine decreased photosynthetic activity and primary production of the suspended algae community. eDNA assessment provided additional insights by revealing that the algae belonging to the class Cryptophyceae and certain cyanobacteria taxa were the most negatively responding taxa to fluoxetine. Our results, together with results of others, suggest that fluoxetine can alter community structure and ecosystem functioning and that some impacts of fluoxetine on certain taxa can already be observed at environmentally realistic concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140706
JournalChemosphere
Volume349
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Bioassays
  • Communities
  • Ecosystem functioning
  • eDNA
  • Fluoxetine
  • Mesocosm

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