Water research

Toxic effect of the combined antibiotics ciprofloxacin, lincomycin, and tylosin on two species of marine diatoms.

PMID 22819871


The role that antibiotics and other "emerging contaminants" play in shaping environmental microbial communities is of growing interest. The use of the prokaryotic metabolic inhibitors tylosin (T), lincomycin (L), and ciprofloxacin (C) in livestock and humans is both global and extensive. Each of these antibiotic compounds exhibits an affinity for sediment particles, increasing the likelihood of their deposition in the benthos of aquatic systems and each are often present in environmental samples. The purpose of this study was to determine if T, L, and C and their mixtures exhibit significant toxicity to two species of marine diatoms, an algal class comprised of ubiquitous eukaryotic primary producers. Subpopulations from laboratory cultures of Cylindrotheca closterium and Navicula ramosissima were reared in 24-well microtiter plates in the presence of single or combined antibiotics in dilution series. Population growth rates were assessed via epifluorescent microscopic cell counts, from which the half-max inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)) were calculated and used as part of a toxic unit (TU) method for assessing mixture interactions. The single-compound IC(50)'s were, for C. closterium: T = 0.27 mg L(-1), L = 14.16 mg L(-1), C = 55.43 mg L(-1), and for N. ramosissima: T = 0.99 mg L(-1), L = 11.08 mg L(-1), C = 72.12 mg L(-1). These values were generally higher than similar metrics for freshwater species. Mixture IC(50)'s were generally synergistic against C. closterium and additive for N. ramosissima. Both single and combined treatments reduced or eliminated diatom motility. Monochemical responses were similar between species and were not useful for predicting mixture interactions. Mixtures had compound-specific and species-specific effects, favoring N. ramosissima. These results suggest that anthropogenic antibiotics may play a significant role in the ecology of environmental benthic microbial communities. They also suggest single-compound/species studies do not yield useful predictions of the ecological impact of anthropogenic pharmaceuticals.