Aquatic organisms are continuously exposed to multiple environmental stressors working cumulatively to alter ecosystems. Wastewater-dominated environments are often riddled by a myriad of stressors, such as chemical and thermal stressors. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of an environmentally relevant concentration of a commonly prescribed antidepressant, venlafaxine (VFX) [1.0 μg/L], in addition to a 5°C increase in water temperature on zebrafish metabolism. Fish were chronically exposed (21 days) to one of four conditions: (i) 0 μg/L VFX at 27°C; (ii) 1.0 μg/L VFX at 27°C; (iii) 0 μg/L VFX at 32°C; (iv) 1.0 μg/L VFX at 32°C. Following exposure, whole-body metabolism was assessed by routine metabolic rate (RMR) measurements, whereas tissue-specific metabolism was assessed by measuring the activities of major metabolic enzymes in addition to glucose levels in muscle. RMR was significantly higher in the multi-stressed group relative to Control. The combination of both stressors resulted in elevated pyruvate kinase activity and glucose levels, while lipid metabolism was depressed, as measured by 3-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase activity. Citrate synthase activity increased with the onset of temperature, but only in the group treatment without VFX. Catalase activity was also elevated with the onset of the temperature stressor, however, that was not the case for the multi-stressed group, potentially indicating a deleterious effect of VFX on the anti-oxidant defense mechanism. The results of this study highlight the importance of multiple-stressor research, as it able to further bridge the gap between field and laboratory studies, as well as have the potential of yielding surprising results that may have not been predicted using a conventional single-stressor approach.
The objective of this study was to assess the effects of municipal wastewater treatment plant effluent on the energetics and stress response of rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum). Male and female rainbow darter were collected upstream and downstream of the Waterloo WWTP in the Grand River watershed, ON, Canada. To assess the effects of wastewater treatment plant effluent on whole-body and tissue specific metabolic capacity, closed-chamber respirometry and muscle-enzyme activity analyses were performed. Plasma cortisol was also collected from fish before and after an acute air-exposure stressor to evaluate the cortisol stress response in fish exposed to additional stressors. Male and female rainbow darter collected downstream of the effluent had higher oxygen consumption rates, while differences in enzyme activities were primarily associated with sex rather than collection site. No impairment in the cortisol stress response between downstream and upstream fish was observed, however baseline cortisol levels in female fish from the downstream site were significantly higher compared to other baseline groups. Stress-induced cortisol levels were also higher in female fish from both sites when compared to their male counterparts. Overall, this study demonstrates that chronic exposure to WWTP effluent impacts whole-body metabolic performance. This study was also able to demonstrate that sex-differences are a key determinant of various metabolic changes in response to physiological stress, thereby, providing a novel avenue to be considered and further explored.