Life history and behavior effects of synthetic and natural dyes on Daphnia magna



• Basic Red 51 and Erythrostominone are acutely toxic to Daphnia magna.
• Both dyes induce deleterious consequences at population level for daphnids.
• Basic Red 51 increases the respiration rate of daphnids.
• Erythrostominone toxicity is 100-fold lower in comparison to Basic Red 51.
• After photodegradation, Erythrostominone loses its toxic potential to D. magna.



Azo dyes are the largest class of dyes extensively used by industries despite their mutagenic potential for humans. As such, natural dyes have been reemerging as an important alternative to human safety. However, limited studies have focused on the effect of dyes on the environment, thus their ecotoxicological investigation is imperative. Here, we aimed to evaluate toxic effects induced by the synthetic azo dye Basic Red 51 (BR51) in comparison with natural dye erythrostominone (Ery) in the microcrustacean Daphnia magna, a standard organism used to assess the risk of chemicals to aquatic organisms. The colorless product formed after the photodegradation of Ery (DEry) was also evaluated, addressing an easy and low cost alternative for industrial effluent treatments. The results showed that both dyes are acutely toxic to D. magna. BR51 and Ery reduced the intrinsic rate of D. magnapopulation increase, which generated fewer neonates per brood. BR51 also increased daphnids respiration rates. In contrast, DEry did not alter any of the analyzed parameters. No locomotor changes were observed when daphnids were exposed to sub-lethal concentrations of Ery or BR51. These results indicate that both dyes can induce deleterious consequences for daphnids including population level effects, but the natural dye Ery presents 100-fold lower toxicity in comparison with the azo dye BR51. Also, that photodegradation of Ery is an efficient method to reduce and prevent previously observed toxic effects, suggesting an inexpensive, fast and easy alternative for treatment of effluents containing this natural dye.


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