Carbendazim exposure induces developmental, biochemical and behavioural disturbance in zebrafish embryos

Thayres S. Andrade*, Jorge F. Henriques, Ana Rita Almeida, Ana Luísa Machado, Olga Koba, Pham Thai Giang, Amadeu M.V.M. Soares, Inês Domingues

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Carbendazim is a widely used broad spectrum benzimidazole fungicide; however, its effects to non-target aquatic organisms are poorly studied. The aim of this study was to investigate the toxic effects of carbendazim to zebrafish early life stages at several levels of biological organization, including developmental, biochemical and behavioural levels. The embryo assay was done following the OECD guideline 236 and using a concentration range between 1.1 and 1.8. mg/L. Lethal and developmental endpoints such as hatching, edemas, malformations, heart beat rate, body growth and delays were assessed in a 96. h exposure. A sub-teratogenic range (from 0.16 to 500. μg/L) was then used to assess effects at biochemical and behavioural levels. Biochemical markers included cholinesterase (ChE), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and catalase (CAT) and were assessed at 96. h. The locomotor behaviour was assessed using an automated video tracking system at 120. h.Carbendazim (96h-LC50 of 1.75mg/L) elicited several developmental anomalies in zebrafish embryos with EC50 values ranging from 0.85 to 1.6mg/L. ChE, GST and LDH activities were increased at concentrations equal or above 4μg/L. The locomotor assay showed to be extremely sensitive, detecting effects in time that larvae spent swimming at concentrations of 0.16μg/L and thus, being several orders of magnitude more sensitive that developmental parameters or lethality. These are ecological relevant concentrations and highlight the potential of behavioural endpoints as early warning signs for environmental stress. Further studies should focus on understanding how the behavioural disturbances measured in these types of studies translate into fitness impairment at the adult stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-399
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Locomotor response
  • Sublethal
  • Swimming behaviour
  • Zebrafish


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