Phthalate esters (PAEs), one class of the most frequently detected endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in marine environment, have aroused wide public concerns because of their carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, and mutagenicity. However, the environmental fate of PAEs in the occurrence of harmful algal blooms remains unclear. In this study, four PAEs with different alkyl chains, i.e., dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), diallyl phthalate (DAP), and dipropyl phthalate (DPrP) were selected as models to investigate toxicity, uptake, and degradation of PAEs in seawater grown with K. brevis, one of the common harmful red tide species. The 96-h median effective concentration (96h-EC50) values followed the order of DMP (over 0.257?mmol?L-1) >DEP (0.178?mmol?L-1) > DAP (0.136?mmol?L-1) > DPrP (0.095?mmol?L-1), and the bio-concentration factors (BCFs) were positively correlated to the alkyl chain length. These results indicate that the toxicity of PAEs and their accumulation in K. brevis increased with increasing alkyl chains, due to the higher lipophicity of the longer chain PAEs. With growth of K. brevis for 96?h, the content of DMP, DEP, DAP, and DPrP decreased by 93.3%, 68.2%, 57.4% and 46.7%, respectively, mainly attributed to their biodegradation by K. brevis, accounting for 87.1%, 61%, 46%, 40% of their initial contents, respectively. It was noticed that abiotic degradation had little contribution to the total reduction of PAEs in the algal cultivation systems. Moreover, five metabolites were detected in the K. brevis when exposed to DEP including dimethyl phthalate (DMP), monoethyl phthalate (MEP), mono-methyl phthalate (MMP), phthalic acid (PA), and protocatechuic acid (PrA). While when exposed with to DPrP, one additional intermediate compound diethyl phthalate (DEP) was detected in the cells of K. brevis in addition to the five metabolites mentioned above. These results confirm that the main biodegradation pathways of DEP and DPrP by K. brevis included de-esterification, demethylation or transesterification. These findings will provide valuable evidences for predicting the environmental fate and assessing potential risk of PAEs in the occurrence of harmful algal blooms in marine environment.
Authors: Sun C, Zhang G, Zheng H, Liu N, Shi M, Luo X, Chen L, Li F, Hu S. ; Full Source: Aquatic Toxicology. 2018 Nov 12; 206:81-90. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2018.11.010. [Epub ahead of print]