Synergistic interaction between effects of phenanthrene and dynamic heat stress cycles in a soil arthropod

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Climatic stressors and chemicals should not be treated as isolated problems since they often occur simultaneously, and their combined effects must be evaluated including their possible interactive effects. In the present study we subjected springtails (Folsomia candida) to combined exposure to phenanthrene and dynamic heat cycles in a full factorial experiment. In a microcosm experiment, we studied the population growth of springtails subjected to a range of sub-lethal concentrations of phenanthrene. During the 28-day experiment we further subjected microcosms to varying numbers of repeated dynamic heat cycles (0-5 cycles) simulating repeated heat waves. We found a synergistic interaction between the effects of phenanthrene and the number of heat waves on both body mass of adults and juvenile production of F. candida showing that the negative effects of phenanthrene were intensified when animals were heat stressed, and/or vice versa. This interaction was not related to internal concentrations of phenanthrene in adult springtails, nor was it due to altered degradation of phenanthrene in soil. We argue that both phenanthrene (by its partitioning into membrane bilayers) and heat have detrimental effects on the physical conditions of cellular membranes in a dose-dependent manner, which, under extreme circumstances, can increase membrane fluidity to a level which is sub-optimal for normal membrane functioning. We discuss the possibility that the synergistic interactions subsequently reduce life-history parameters such as growth and reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113071
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
IssuePt B
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

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