Long-Term Exposure to Fluoxetine Reduces Growth and Reproductive Potential in the Dominant Rocky Intertidal Mussel, Mytilus californianus

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Science of The Total Environment

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Environmental stressors shape community composition and ecosystem functioning. Contaminants such as pharmaceuticals are of increasing concern as an environmental stressor due to their persistence in surface waters worldwide. Limited attention has been paid to the effects of pharmaceuticals on marine life, despite widespread detection of these contaminants in the marine environment. Of the existing studies, the majority assess the negative effects of pharmaceuticals over an exposure period of 30 days or less and focus on cellular and subcellular biomarkers. Longer studies are required to determine if chronic contaminant exposure poses risks to marine life at environmentally relevant concentrations; and examination of whole organism effects are necessary to identify potential community-level consequences in estuarine and marine ecosystems. We conducted a long-term exposure study (107 days) with the anti-depressant pharmaceutical, fluoxetine (the active constituent in Prozac®) to determine whether minimal concentrations affected whole organism metrics in the California mussel, Mytilus californianus. We measured algal clearance rates, mussel growth, and the gonadosomatic index, a measure of reproductive health. We found that fluoxetine negatively affects all measured characteristics, however many effects were mediated by length of exposure. Our results fill an important data gap, highlighting organism-level effects of chronic exposure periods; such data more explicitly identify the overall impacts of pharmaceuticals and other contaminants on marine communities and ecosystems.



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