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Ecotoxicology. 2013 Jul;22(5):900-14. doi: 10.1007/s10646-013-1072-y. Epub 2013 Apr 6.

Gene expression profiling of three different stressors in the water flea Daphnia magna.

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Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, Catholic University of Leuven, Charles Deberiotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Microarrays are an ideal tool to screen for differences in gene expression of thousands of genes simultaneously. However, often commercial arrays are not available. In this study, we performed microarray analyses to evaluate patterns of gene transcription following exposure to two natural and one anthropogenic stressor. cDNA microarrays compiled of three life stage specific and three stressor-specific EST libraries, yielding 1734 different EST sequences, were used. We exposed juveniles of the water flea Daphnia magna for 48, 96 and 144 h to three stressors known to exert strong selection in natural populations of this species i.e. a sublethal concentration of the pesticide carbaryl, infective spores of the endoparasite Pasteuria ramosa, and fish predation risk mimicked by exposure to fish kairomones. A total of 148 gene fragments were differentially expressed compared to the control. Based on a PCA, the exposure treatments were separated into two main groups based on the extent of the transcriptional response: a low and a high (144 h of fish or carbaryl exposure and 96 h of parasite exposure) stress group. Firstly, we observed a general stress-related transcriptional expression profile independent of the treatment characterized by repression of transcripts involved in transcription, translation, signal transduction and energy metabolism. Secondly, we observed treatment-specific responses including signs of migration to deeper water layers in response to fish predation, structural challenge of the cuticle in response to carbaryl exposure, and disturbance of the ATP production in parasite exposure. A third important conclusion is that transcription expression patterns exhibit stress-specific changes over time. Parasite exposure shows the most differentially expressed gene fragments after 96 h. The peak of differentially expressed transcripts came only after 144 h of fish exposure, while carbaryl exposure induced a more stable number of differently expressed gene fragments over time.

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