Physiological and molecular responses of springtails exposed to phenanthrene and drought

Martin Holmstrup, Stine Slotsbo, Stine N. Schmidt, Philipp Mayer, Christian Damgaard, Jesper G. Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Interaction between effects of hazardous chemicals in the environment and adverse climatic conditions is a problem that receives increased attention in the light of climate change. We studied interactive effects of phenanthrene and drought using a test system in which springtails (Folsomia candida Willem) were concurrently exposed to a sublethal phenanthrene level via passive dosing from silicone (chemical activity of 0.010), and sublethal drought from aqueous NaCl solutions (water activity of 0.988). Previous studies have shown that the combined effects of high levels of phenanthrene and drought, respectively, interact synergistically when using lethality as an end-point. Here, we hypothesized that phenanthrene interferes with physiological mechanisms involved in drought tolerance, and that drought influences detoxification of phenanthrene. However, this hypothesis was not supported by data since phenanthrene had no effect on drought-protective accumulation of myo-inositol, and normal water conserving mechanisms of F. candida were functioning despite the near-lethal concentrations of the toxicant. Further, detoxifying induction of cytochrome P450 and glutathione-S-transferase was not impeded by drought. Both phenanthrene and drought induced transcription of heat shock protein (hsp70) and the combined effect of the two stressors on hsp70 transcription was additive, suggesting that the cellular stress and lethality imposed by these levels of phenanthrene and drought were also additive.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Pages (from-to)370-376
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Collembola
  • Desiccation tolerance
  • Passive dosing
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

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