alexa Effects of the azole fungicide Imazalil on the development of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis (Chordata, Tunicata): morphological and molecular characterization of the induced phenotype.
Agri and Aquaculture

Agri and Aquaculture

Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development

Author(s): Zega G

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Imazalil (IMA) is a fungicide that is used extensively in fruit plantations and post-harvest treatments, but has teratogenic effects on vertebrate development, possibly due to the perturbation of retinoic acid (RA) levels in the embryo. Ascidians are sessile marine invertebrate chordates that develop through a tadpole larva, with a body plan that shares basic homologies with vertebrates. In this work, we tested the effects of IMA on the development of the solitary ascidian Ciona intestinalis by treating two-cell stage embryos with a range of concentrations (0.1, 0.5, 1, 2.5, 5, 10, 20 and 50microThe fungicide significantly altered ascidian development even at low concentrations and its effects were dose-dependent. Probit analysis revealed that the median lethal concentration, LC(50), was 4.87microM and the median teratogenic concentration, TC(50), was 0.73microM. Larvae developing from embryos exposed to IMA showed malformations of the anterior structures, which became more severe as IMA concentration increased. In particular, the anterior nervous system and the sensory vesicle were reduced, and the pigmented organs (the ocellus and the otolith) progressively lost their pigmentation. The larval phenotype induced by 5microM IMA exposure was further characterized by means of molecular analysis, through whole mount in situ hybridization with probes for genes related to the nervous system: Ci-Otp, Ci-GAD, Ci-POU IV, which are markers of the anterior neuro-ectoderm, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system respectively, and Ci-Hox-1, a gene specifically activated by RA, and Ci-Aldh2, a gene for aldehyde dehydrogenase, which is involved in RA synthesis. The altered expression of Ci-Otp, Ci-GAD, Ci-POU IV in 5microM IMA-exposed larvae compared to control larvae showed that this fungicide could affect the differentiation of the anterior nervous system, particularly of the sensory vesicle neurons. Recent studies suggest a similarity between IMA- and RA-induced phenotypes in tunicates, indicating that triazoles may also alter RA metabolism in ascidians. The observed Ci-Hox-1 and Ci-Aldh2 expression in control and treated larvae did not allow a direct link between IMA teratogenic potential and RA-dependent morphogenesis to be identified. It is likely that the fungicidal teratogenic mechanism involved RA signalling but that its effects on ascidian development depend on a more complex mechanism.

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This article was published in Aquat Toxicol and referenced in Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development

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