Maternal Responses and Adaptive Changes to Environmental Stress via Chronic Nanomaterial Exposure: Differences in Inter and Transgenerational Interclonal Broods of Daphnia magna

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There is increasing recognition that environmental nano-biological interactions in model species, and the resulting effects on progeny, are of paramount importance for nanomaterial (NM) risk assessment. In this work, Daphnia magna F0 mothers were exposed to a range of silver and titanium dioxide NMs. The key biological life history traits (survival, growth and reproduction) of the F1 intergenerations, at the first (F1B1), third (F1B3) and fifth (F1B5) broods, were investigated. Furthermore, the F1 germlines of each of the three broods were investigated over 3 more generations (up to 25 days each) in continuous or removed-from NM exposure, to identify how the length of maternal exposure affects the resulting clonal broods. Our results show how daphnids respond to NM-induced stress, and how the maternal effects show trade-offs between growth, reproduction and survivorship. The F1B1 (and following germline) had the shortest F0 maternal exposure times to the NMs, and thus were the most sensitive showing reduced size and reproductive output. The F1B3 generation had a sub-chronic maternal exposure, whereas the F1B5 generation suffered chronic maternal exposure where (in most cases) the most compensatory adaptive effects were displayed in response to the prolonged NM exposure, including enhanced neonate output and reduced gene expression. Transgenerational responses of multiple germlines showed a direct link with maternal exposure time to 'sub-lethal' effect concentrations of NMs (identified from standard OECDs acute toxicity tests which chronically presented as lethal) including increased survival and production of males in the F1B3 and G1B5 germlines. This information may help to fine-tune environmental risk assessments of NMs and prediction of their impacts on environmental ecology.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: Funding: This research was funded by via a NERC highlight topics grant (NE/N006569/1). Additional support from the H2020 project NanoSolveIT (grant agreement no. 814572) is acknowledged.


Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2020


  • Daphnia magna, Environmental toxicology, Epigenetics, Nanomaterials