Improving the reliability and ecological validity of pharmaceutical risk assessment: Turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) as a model in behavioral ecotoxicology
Thoré, Eli S.J.
Grégoir, Arnout F.
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Pharmaceuticals are essential for human well-being, but their increasing and continuous use pollutes the environment. Although behavioral ecotoxicology is increasingly advocated to assess the effects of pharmaceutical pollution on wildlife and ecosystems, a consensus on the actual environmental risks is lacking for most compounds. The main limitation is the lack of standardized reproducible tests that are based on sensitive behavioral endpoints and that accommodate a high ecological relevance. In the present study, we assessed the impact of a 3-wk exposure to the antidepressant fluoxetine on multiple behavioral traits in the promising new model organism Nothobranchius furzeri (turquoise killifish). Overall, our study shows that fluoxetine can impact feeding behavior, habitat choice in a novel environment, and antipredator response of N. furzeri individuals; effects on spontaneous activity and exploration tendency were less pronounced. However, effects became only apparent when individuals were exposed to fluoxetine concentrations that were 10 times higher than typical concentrations in natural aquatic environments. Ecotoxicologists are challenged to maximize both the reliability and ecological validity of risk assessments of pollutants. Our study contributes to the development of a time- and cost-efficient, standardized ecotoxicological test based on sensitive, ecologically relevant behavioral endpoints in N. furzeri