State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Integrated Surface Water-Groundwater Pollution Control, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, China; Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Soil and Groundwater Pollution Control, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, China. Electronic address: [Email]
In China, antibiotics are commonly used for human and veterinary medicine, and they are present in various environmental media. Thus, the toxic effects of antibiotics on organisms have attracted the attention of society and scientists alike. In this study, zebrafish embryos were used to test the single and joint toxicity of four antibiotics, sulfamonomethoxine (SMM), cefotaxime sodium (CFT), tetracycline (TC), enrofloxacin (ENR), and their combinations, combining the results of experimental and omics techniques. Following exposure to antibiotics for 120 h, the body lengths of zebrafish larvae in all 100 μg/L antibiotic groups were significantly shortened, and the reactive oxygen species (ROS) content in the 100 μg/L Mix group was significantly increased. Transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) showed that the mRNA level of numerous genes was significantly changed in the five antibiotic treatment groups. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analysis of the differentially expressed genes revealed a significant enrichment of the steroid biosynthesis and other metabolism pathways. Hub gene analysis highlighted dhcr24, acat1, aldh1a2, aldh8a1, suclg2, hadh, and hsdl2 as the key genes, and hub gene expression changes because of the antibiotic treatment suggested that the metabolic system of the zebrafish larvae was severely disrupted by the interaction with other genes. In conclusion, single or joint exposure to different antibiotics at environmental concentrations affected the early development and metabolic system of zebrafish larvae, and our results provide fundamental evidence for future studies of antibiotic toxicity in aquatic organisms.