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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Oct;22(19):14862-73. doi: 10.1007/s11356-015-4694-1. Epub 2015 May 22.

Adsorbable organic bromine compounds (AOBr) in aquatic samples: a nematode-based toxicogenomic assessment of the exposure hazard.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Freshwater and Stress Ecology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Späthstr. 80/81, 12437, Berlin, Germany.
  • 2School of Biomedical Sciences, Analytical and Environmental Sciences Division, King's College London, 150 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NH, UK.
  • 3Department of Biology, Freshwater and Stress Ecology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Späthstr. 80/81, 12437, Berlin, Germany.
  • 4Chair of Water Quality Control, Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135, 10623, Berlin, Germany.


Elevated levels of adsorbable organic bromine compounds (AOBr) have been detected in German lakes, and cyanobacteria like Microcystis, which are known for the synthesis of microcystins, are one of the main producers of natural organobromines. However, very little is known about how environmental realistic concentrations of organobromines impact invertebrates. Here, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans was exposed to AOBr-containing surface water samples and to a Microcystis aeruginosa-enriched batch culture (MC-BA) and compared to single organobromines and microcystin-LR exposures. Stimulatory effects were observed in certain life trait variables, which were particularly pronounced in nematodes exposed to MC-BA. A whole genome DNA-microarray revealed that MC-BA led to the differential expression of more than 2000 genes, many of which are known to be involved in metabolic, neurologic, and morphologic processes. Moreover, the upregulation of cyp- and the downregulation of abu-genes suggested the presence of chronic stress. However, the nematodes were not marked by negative phenotypic responses. The observed difference in MC-BA and microcystin-LR (which impacted lifespan, growth, and reproduction) exposed nematodes was hypothesized to be likely due to other compounds within the batch culture. Most likely, the exposure to low concentrations of organobromines appears to buffer the effects of toxic substances, like microcystin-LR.


C. elegans; Gene expression; Microarray; Microcystin; Microcystis aeruginosa; Organobromines

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