Transcriptomic analysis and transgenerational effects of ZnO nanoparticles on Daphnia magna : Endocrine-disrupting potential and energy metabolism

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

14 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


  • Qianju Qi
  • Qi Li
  • Jing Li
  • Yulu Tian
  • Jiahua Guo


Original languageEnglish
Article number133362
Journal / PublicationChemosphere
Online published18 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


The widespread application of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) has raised concerns over the adverse effects on aquatic species. In this study, transcriptomic analysis was applied to evaluate the chronic toxicity of ZnO NPs on the freshwater invertebrate Daphnia magna and the intergenerational effects were then further investigated. Parent daphnia (F0) were exposed to ZnO NPs at 3, 60, and 300 μg L−1 for 21 days. ZnO NPs significantly inhibited the reproduction (first pregnancy and spawning time, total number of offspring) and growth (molting frequency and body length) of F0. Here, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) involved in lysosomal and phagosome, energy metabolism and endocrine disruption pathways were significantly downregulated. Furthermore, disruption on the transport and catabolic processes probably resulted in the particle accumulation. The inhibited pathways related to energy metabolism may partially account for the body length, molting and reproductive restriction. The suppression of growth and reproduction may attribute to the down-regulation of insulin secretion and ovarian steroidogenesis pathways, respectively. Partial recovery of growth and reproductive inhibition in F1 – F3 descended from the F0 generation exposure did not support constant transgenerational effects. This study unravels the molecular mechanisms and transgenerational consequences of the toxicity of nanoparticles on Daphnia.

Research Area(s)

  • Digestive system, Life history, Nanotoxicology, Recovery generations, Water flea