Cyanobacteria produce a diverse array of toxic or otherwise bioactive compounds that pose growing threats to human and environmental health. We utilized the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo, as a model of vertebrate development, to investigate the inhibition of development pathways (i.e. developmental toxicity) by the cyanobacterial toxin, cylindrospermopsin (CYN), as well as extracts from various isolates of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii and Aphanizomenon ovalisporum. CYN was toxic only when injected directly into embryos, but not by direct immersion at doses up to 50 μg/ml. Despite the dose dependency of toxicity observed following injection of CYN, no consistent patterns of developmental defects were observed, suggesting that toxic effects of CYN may not target specific developmental pathways. In contrast, direct immersion of embryos in all of the extracts resulted in both increased mortality and reproducible, consistent, developmental dysfunctions. Interestingly, there was no correlation of developmental toxicity observed for these extracts with the presence of CYN or with previously reported toxicity for these strains. These results suggest that CYN is lethal to zebrafish embryos, but apparently inhibits no specific developmental pathways, whereas other apparent metabolites from C. raciborskii and A. ovalisporum seem to reproducibly inhibit development in the zebrafish model. Continued investigation of these apparent, unknown metabolites is needed.
- Developmental toxicity
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