• Algae;
  • Rotifer;
  • Multiple stressor;
  • Predation;
  • Herbicide


Environmental factors can interact with the effects of chemical pollutants on natural systems by inducing multiple stressor effects in individual organisms as well as by altering selection pressure on tolerant strains in heterogeneous populations. Predation is a stressful environmental factor relevant for many species. Therefore, the impact of predation by the rotifer Brachionus calyciflorus on tolerance of eight genetically different strains of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to simultaneous exposure to each of the three herbicides (diuron, paraquat, and S-metolachlor) was tested. Interactions of combined stressors were analyzed based on the independent action model; additive, synergistic, and antagonistic effects of the combined exposure could be detected depending on the herbicide and strain tested. If cultures were acclimated (pre-exposed) to one stressor, tolerance to the second stressor could be increased. This indicates that physiological changes can induce cotolerance of predation-exposed algae to herbicides and of herbicide-treated algae to predation depending on the combination of stressors. The strain-specific differences in multiple stressor effects also changed the correlation of strains' tolerances to individual stressors determined during combined and single-stressor exposure. Changes in cotolerance to stressors affect selection pressure and population dynamics during long-term exposure. This shows that predation stress can have adverse effects on the toxicity of chemical pollutants to microalgae on the organism and population levels. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 2832–2840. © 2012 SETAC