Effect of thallium on phototactic behaviour in Daphnia magna

Andrew H. Nagel, Abigail S.R. Robinson, Greg G. Goss, Chris N. Glover

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Thallium (Tl) is a trace metal enriched in wastewaters associated with mining and smelting of base metals. The toxicity of Tl to aquatic biota is poorly understood, particularly with respect to its sublethal effects. In this study, phototactic behavioural responses of naïve (i.e. no previous exposure to Tl) Daphnia magna, a key regulatory freshwater crustacean species, were examined in waters containing Tl. Fed and fasted neonate daphnids (< 24 h old) and fed adults (10–15 days old) showed no significant response at any tested water Tl concentration. However, in fasted adults, an increase in the positive phototactic response (measured as a greater number of daphnids closer to the light source after a 5-min exposure) was seen at Tl concentrations of 917 and 2099 µg L−1, values representative of extreme environmental Tl concentrations. The presence of Tl also decreased the swimming speed of adult Daphnia towards a light source. In the presence of cimetidine, a histamine receptor blocker, the increase in positive phototaxis induced by Tl disappeared, suggesting that Tl acts to perturb the phototaxis response through sensory inhibition. Conversely, although there was a trend towards enhanced activity, Tl had no significant effect on acetylcholinesterase, a marker of locomotor capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81740-81748
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number54
Publication statusPublished - Nov. 2022


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Histamine
  • Locomotion
  • Predation
  • Sensory impairment
  • Trace metal


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