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Paternal exposure to a common herbicide alters the behavior and serotonergic system of zebrafish offspring

Cite this dataset

Lamb, Simon; Chia, Jolyn; Johnson, Sheri (2020). Paternal exposure to a common herbicide alters the behavior and serotonergic system of zebrafish offspring [Dataset]. Dryad.


Increasingly, studies are revealing that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can alter animal behavior. Early life exposure to EDCs may permanently alter phenotypes through to adulthood. In addition, the effects of EDCs may not be isolated to a single generation − offspring may indirectly be impacted, via non-genetic processes. Here, we analyzed the effects of paternal atrazine exposure on behavioral traits (distance moved, exploration, bottom-dwelling time, latency to enter the top zone, and interaction with a mirror) and whole-brain mRNA of genes involved in the serotonergic system regulation (slc6a4a, slc6a4b, htr1Aa, htr1B, htr2B) of zebrafish (Danio rerio). F0 male zebrafish were exposed to atrazine at 0.3, 3 or 30 part per billion (ppb) during early juvenile development, the behavior of F1 progeny was tested at adulthood, and the effect of 0.3 ppb atrazine treatment on mRNA transcription was quantified. Paternal exposure to atrazine significantly reduced interactions with a mirror (a proxy for aggression) and altered the latency to enter the top zone of a tank in unexposed F1 offspring. Bottom-dwelling time (a proxy for anxiety) also appeared to be somewhat affected, and activity (distance moved) was reduced in the context of aggression. slc6a4a and htr1Aa mRNA transcript levels were found to correlate positively with anxiety levels in controls, but we found that this relationship was disrupted in the 0.3 ppb atrazine treatment group. Overall, paternal atrazine exposure resulted in alterations across a variety of behavioral traits and showed signs of serotonergic system dysregulation, demonstrating intergenerational effects. Further research is needed to explore transgenerational effects on behavior and possible mechanisms underpinning behavioral effects.

Usage notes

Paternal atrazine exposure on F1 zebrafish behavior.xlsx

Behavioral data collected from adult F1 zebrafish during the three behavioral tests, the novel arena assay, novel object assay and mirror exposure assay.

Paternal atrazine exposure on F1 zebrafish serotonergic mRNA.xlsx

mRNA transcript number data on several genes involved in serotonergic regulation collected from whole-brain.


Royal Society of New Zealand, Award: UOO1507

University of Otago