Changes in gene transcription and whole organism responses in larval fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) following short-term exposure to the synthetic pyrethroid bifenthrin

Sebastian Beggel, Richard E Connon, Inge Werner, Juergen Geist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


The combination of molecular and whole-organism endpoints in ecotoxicology provides valuable information about the ecological relevance of sublethal stressor effects in aquatic ecosystems such as those caused by the use of insecticides and translocation of their residues into surface waters. This study contributes knowledge about the sublethal effects of a common use insecticide, the synthetic pyrethroid bifenthrin, on larval fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Transcriptomic responses, assessed by quantitative real-time PCR, combined with individual effects on swimming performance were used to estimate the ecological relevance of insecticide impacts. Significant transcriptomic responses were observed at 0.07μgL-1 bifenthrin (lowest observed effect concentration, LOEC) but mostly followed a biphasic rather than a linear dose-response with increasing concentration. Transcript patterns for genes involved in detoxification, neuromuscular function and energy metabolism were linked to an impairment of swimming performance at ≥0.14μgL-1 bifenthrin. With increasing treatment concentration, a significant down-regulation was observed for genes coding for cyp3a, aspartoacylase, and creatine kinase, whereas metallothionein was up-regulated. Additionally, bifenthrin induced endocrine responses as evident from a significant up-regulation of vitellogenin and down-regulation of insuline-like growth factor transcripts. Recovery occurred after 6 days and was dependent on the magnitude of the initial stress. During the recovery period, down-regulation of vitellogenin was observed at lowest exposure concentrations. The data presented here emphasize that links can be made between gene transcription changes and behavioral responses which is of great value for the evaluation and interpretation of biomarker responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2011



  • Aspartoacylase
  • Biomarkers
  • Ecotoxicogenomics
  • Fish stress response
  • Sublethal effects
  • Swimming performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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