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The psychoactive drug Escitalopram affects foraging behavior in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are psychoactive pharmaceuticals that have been detected intact in natural waters globally. Laboratory experiments have reported that several SSRIs inhibit fish foraging behavior, but for Escitalopram this still needs to be uncovered. The objectives of the present study were to uncover whether Escitalopram affects feeding behavior in zebrafish and to disclose possible sex differences. We exposed female and male zebrafish (Danio rerio) to 0.00, 0.10 and 1.50 µg/L Escitalopram in flow-through tanks for a 3-wk exposure period. We used a video tracking system with high temporal and spatial resolution to collect data of zebrafish swim-ming patterns in test tanks containing a food source. We demonstrate a more pronounced effect of Escitalopram in males compared to females. At the assumed most environmental relevant concentration (0.10 µg/L), male average feeding time per visit and maximum feeding duration was significantly reduced by 27% and 42%, respectively. In addition, male total feeding duration was also significantly reduced by 73% at the highest concentration (1.50 µg/L). In females, only the maxi-mum feeding duration was significantly reduced by 41% in the 0.10 µg/L treatment group. Hence, we can reject our initial hypothesis that female feeding behavior is more vulnerable to Escitalopram. Data showed no Escitalopram effect in length or weight between the experimental groups. The pre-sent study demonstrates that Escitalopram, as other SSRIs, can inhibit fish foraging behavior and therefore potentially disturb natural food chains. Finally, our experiment suggests that the SSRIs can both be sex- and behavior-specific.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Pages (from-to)1902-1910
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

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