Effects of corexit 9500A and Corexit-crude oil mixtures on transcriptomic pathways and developmental toxicity in early life stage mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

Justin B. Greer, Christina Pasparakis, John D. Stieglitz, Daniel Benetti, Martin Grosell, Daniel Schlenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Crude oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure in early life stage fish has been well-characterized to induce phenotypic malformations such as altered heart development and other morphological impacts. The effects of chemical oil dispersants on toxicity are more controversial. To better understand how chemical dispersion of oil can impact toxicity in pelagic fish, embryos of mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) were exposed to three concentrations of the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500A, or Corexit 9500A-oil mixtures (chemically enhanced water accommodated fractions: CEWAF) of Deepwater Horizon crude oil for 48 h. RNA sequencing, gene ontology enrichment, and phenotypic measurements were conducted to assess toxicity. Exposure to Corexit 9500A altered expression of less than 50 genes at all concentrations (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/L nominal concentration) and did not induce acute mortality or phenotypic malformations, corroborating other studies showing minimal effects of Corexit 9500A on developing mahi-mahi embryos. CEWAF preparations contained environmentally relevant ∑PAH concentrations ranging from 1.4 to 3.1 μg/L and similarly did not alter larval morphology. Differentially expressed genes and significantly altered pathways related to cardiotoxicity, visual impairments, and Ca2+ homeostasis reinforced previous work that expression of genes associated with the heart and eye are highly sensitive molecular endpoints in oil-exposed early life stage fish. Differential expression and gene ontology pathways were similar across the three CEWAF treatments, indicating that increased chemical dispersion did not alter molecular outcomes within the range tested here. In addition, significant sublethal molecular responses occurred in the absence of observable phenotypic changes to the heart, indicating that effects of oil on early life stage fish may not be completely dependent on cardiac function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages8
JournalAquatic Toxicology
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Developmental toxicity
  • Gene expression
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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