, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 481–487 | Cite as

Toxic effect and adaptation in Scenedesmus intermedius to anthropogenic chloramphenicol contamination: genetic versus physiological mechanisms to rapid acquisition of xenobiotic resistance

  • S. Sánchez-Fortún
  • F. Marvá
  • M. Rouco
  • E. Costas
  • V. López-Rodas


Anthropogenic water pollution is producing a challenge to the survival of phytoplankton populations. From an ecological point of view, the tolerance of these microorganisms to water pollution is of paramount importance since they are the principal primary producers of aquatic ecosystems. The adaptation of a common chlorophyta species (Scenedesmus intermedius) exposed to selected dose-response chloramphenicol (CAP) concentrations has been analyzed. A fluctuation analysis demonstrated that CAP-resistant cells arise due to spontaneous mutation which occurs randomly prior to the antibiotic exposure. CAP-inhibited growth and photosynthetic performance of algal cells at 0.28 mg/l, and the IC50(72) value was established in 0.10 mg/l for both parameters. The mutation rate from CAP sensitivity to resistance was 1.01 × 10−5 mutations per cell division, while the frequency of CAP-resistant allele in non-polluted environment was estimated to be 5.5 CAP-resistant mutants per 103 sensitive-cells. These results demonstrate that resistant mutants exhibit a diminished fitness until 5 mg/l of CAP, thus enabling the survival of microalgae population.


Chloramphenicol Scenedesmus intermedius Toxicity Mutation rate Fluctuation analysis 



This work was supported by grants S-OSOS/AMB/0374 CAM; MAM 093/2002, CGL 2005-01938/BOS, CGL 2007-28853-E. Thanks are given to Eva Salgado for her technical support. We also wish to express our gratitude to David Bruhn for his review and stylistic changes to this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Sánchez-Fortún
    • 1
  • F. Marvá
    • 2
  • M. Rouco
    • 2
  • E. Costas
    • 2
  • V. López-Rodas
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Toxicology and PharmacologyComplutense UniversityMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Genetics, School of Veterinary SciencesComplutense UniversityMadridSpain

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