The Effects of an Herbicide and Antibiotic Mixture on Aquatic Primary Producers and Grazers

  • Madison R. Kelly
  • Risa A. CohenEmail author


Widespread use of agrochemicals increases their likelihood of entering aquatic systems in mixture. Despite different modes of action, atrazine (herbicide) and tetracycline (antibiotic) adversely affect non-target photosynthetic organisms individually, but the effects of simultaneous exposure to both contaminants are untested. We created microcosms containing microalgae (Chlorella sp.), floating macrophytes (Lemna minor), and a zooplankton grazer (Daphnia magna). Microcosms were exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of atrazine and tetracycline, alone and together, for 10 days. Atrazine decreased Chlorella sp. abundance, but not enough to reduce food availability to D. magna whose reproduction and mortality were unaffected. In contrast, tetracycline and atrazine appeared to have additive effects on L. minor abundance and growth inhibition. These additive adverse effects suggest increased potential for L. minor population decline over the long term, and potential for altered species interactions in aquatic systems receiving agricultural runoff.


Aquatic community Duckweed Ecotoxicology Phytoplankton Zooplankton 



We thank the Chandler Foundation, the Department of Biology, the Georgia Southern University Honors Program Undergraduate Research Fund, and the Student Government Association for funding awards to the first author who completed this study under the mentorship of the second author. We also thank C. R. Chandler for statistical advice and J. Duff, L. Latzsch and A. Wagner for assistance with the experiment.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA

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