Developmental study of mercury effects on the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)

Open access


Environmental pollution caused by heavy metals such as mercury is one of the most important human problems. It might have severe teratogenic effects on embryonic development. Some pharmacological and physiological aspects of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are similar to humans. So the stages of egg to adult fruit fly, as a developmental model, were employed in the study. Wild adult insects were maintained in glass dishes containing standard medium at 25 °C in complete darkness. Five pairs of 3-day old flies were then transferred to standard culture dishes containing different concentrations of mercury ion. They were removed after 8 hours. We considered the following: The rate of larvae becoming pupae and pupae to adults; the time required for the development; the hatching rate in the second generation without mercury in the culture; the morphometric changes during development in both length and width of the eggs through two generations; larvae, pupae and adult thorax length and width. The results showed that mercury in culture (20-100 mg/l) increase the duration of larvae (p<0.01) and pupae (p<0.01) development, the rate of larvae becoming pupae (p<0.001); pupae maturation (p<0.05), the hatching rate (p<0.01), the length (p<0.05) and width of larvae (p<0.01) and pupae (p<0.001) and the length in the adult thorax (p<0.01) decreased significantly. There was no effect upon the size of eggs. There were also no larvae hatching in concentrations of 200 mg/l of mercury. Negative effects of mercury as a heavy metal are possibly due to the interference of this metal in cellular signaling pathways, such as: Notch signaling and protein synthesis during the period of development. Since it bonds chemically with the sulfur hydride groups of proteins, it causes damage to the cell membrane and decreases the amount of RNA. This is the cause of failure of many enzyme mechanisms.

Agnes L, Bundgaard J. (2000). Controlled variation of body size by larval crowding in Drosophila melanogaster. Drosoph Inf Serv 83: 171-174.

Alattia JR, Kuraishi T , Dimitrov M, Chang I, Lemaitre B, Fraering PC. (2011). Mercury is a direct and potent γ-secretase inhibitor affecting Notch processing and development in Drosophila. FASEB J 25: 2287-2295.

Alexander J, Guojon AA, Benford D, Cockburn A, Cravedi J, Dogliotti E. (2008). Mercury as undesirable substance in animal feed scientific opinion of the panel on contaminants in the food chain. EFSA Journal 654: 1-76.

Al-Momani FA, Massadeh AM. (2005). Effect of different heavy-metal concentrations on Drosophila melanogaster larval growth and development. BiolTrace Elem Res 108: 271-277.

Anderson D. (2003). Introduction to heavy metal monitoring. Centre for Ecologyand Hydrology, Natural Environment Research Council, pp. 1-9.

Badre, NH, Martin ME, Cooper RL. (2005). The physiological and behavioral effects of carbon dioxide on Drosophila melanogaster larvae. Comp BiochemPhysiol A Mol Integr Physiol 140: 363-376.

Baffet A, Benoit B, Gourhand B, Heichette C, Chretien D, Guichet A. (2009). Mercury (Drosophila Tubulin Binding Cofactor B) controls cell polarity through the stabilisation of the microtubule network. Mech Dev 126: 144-150.

Balamurugan K, Hua H, Georgiev O, Schaffner W. (2009). Mercury and cadmium trigger expression of the copper importer Ctr1B, which enables Drosophila to thrive on heavy metal-loaded food. Biol Chem 390:109-113.

Bamise C, Oginni AO, Adedigba MA, Olagundoye O. (2012). Perception of patients with amalgam fillings about toxicity of mercury in dental amalgam. JContemp Dent Pract 13: 289-293.

Bornias-Vardiabasis N, Buzin C, Flores J. (1990). Differential expression of heat shock proteins in Drosophila embryonic cells following metal ion exposures. Exp Cell Res 189: 177-182.

Burger J. (2002). Food chain differences affect heavy metals in bird eggs in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Environ Res 90: 33-39.

Carpi A. (2001). The toxicology of mercury. National Science, Foundation - Vision Learning, New York.

Chan TY. (2011). Inorganic mercury poisoning associated with skin-lightening cosmetic products. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 49: 886-891.

Clarkson TW, Magos L. (2006). The toxicology of mercury and its chemical compounds. Crit Rev Toxicol 36: 609-662.

Day DM, Wallman JF. (2006). Width as an alternative measurement to length for postmortem interval estimations using Calliphora augur (Diptera: Calliphoridae) larvae. Forensic Sci Int 159: 158-167.

Ding L, Wang Y. (2006). Effect of copper on the development of protein and esterase isozymes of Drosophila melanogaster. Integr Zool 2: 73-77.

Engel GL, Delwig A, Rand MD. (2012). The effects of methylmercury on Notch signaling during embryonic neural development in Drosophila melanogaster. Toxicol In Vitro 26: 485-492.

Flora SJS, Mittal M, Mehta A. (2008). Heavy metal induced oxidative stress & its possible reversal by chelation therapy. Indian J Med Res 128: 501-523.

Frasco MF, Colletier JP, Weik M, Carvalho F, Guilhermino L, Stojan J, Fournier D. (2007). Mechanisms of cholinesterase inhibition by inorganic mercury. FEBS J 274: 1849-1861.

Guru Prasad BR, Hegde SN. (2010). Use of Drosophila as a model organism in medicine. J Med Med Sci 12: 589-593.

Hazelhoff MH, Bulacio RP, Torres AM. (2012). Gender related differences in kidney injury induced by mercury. Int J Mol Sci 13: 10523-10536.

Hu Y, Cheng H. (2012). Mercury risk from fluorescent lamps in China: current status and future perspective. Environ Int 44: 141-150.

Johnson GL, Lapadat R. (2002). Mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways mediated by ERK, JNK, and p38 protein kinases. Science 298: 1911-1912.

Jolley DF, O’ Brien G, Morrison J. (2000). Evolution of chemical contaminant and toxicology studies, part 1 - an overview. SPJNS 21: 1-5.

National Toxicology Program. (1993). Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of mercuric chloride (CAS No. 7487-94-7) in F344 rats and B6C3F1 mice (Gavage Studies). Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser 408: 1-260.

Osburn WO, Kensler TW. (2008). Nrf2 signaling: An adaptive response pathway for protection against environmental toxic insults. Mutat Res 659: 31-39.

Paula MT, Zemolin AP, Vargas AP, Golombieski RM, Loreto EL, Saidelles AP, Picoloto RS, Flores EM, Pereira AB, Rocha JB, Merritt TJ, Franco JL, Posser T. (2012). Effects of Hg (II) exposure on MAPK phosphorylation and antioxidant system in D. melanogaster. Environ Toxicol [Epub ahead of print].

Pereira AM, Tudor C, Kanger JS, Subramaniam V, Martin-Blanco E. (2011). Integrin- dependent activation of the JNK signaling pathway by mechanical stress. PLoS ONE 6: e26182.

Posser T, Franco JL, Bobrovskaya L, Leal RB, Dickson PW, Dunkley PR .(2009). Manganese induces sustained Ser40 phosphorylation and activation of tyrosine hydroxylase in PC12 cells. J Neurochem 110: 848-856.

Rand MD, Dao JC, Clason TA. (2009). Methylmercury disruption of embryonic neural development in Drosophila. Neurotoxicology 30: 794-802.

Sackton KL, Buehner NA, Wolfner MF. (2007). Modulation of MAPK activities during egg activation in Drosophila. Fly (Austin) 1: 222-227.

Sharma DN, Bhattacharya L. (2010). Role of some antioxidants on mercury chloride induced spermatogenesis in Swiss albino mice during prepubertal phase of life. Indian J Sci Res 1: 19-25.

Tchounwou PB, Yedjou CG, Patlolla AK, Sutton DJ. (2012). Heavy metal toxicity and the environment. EXS 101: 133-164.

Williams CM, Beecher HK. (1944). Sensitivity of Drosophila to poisoning by oxygen. Am J Physiol 140: 566-573.

Yaghmaie B, Jazayeri SB, Shahlaee A. (2012). Mercury ingestion from a broken thermometer. Arch Dis Child 97: 852.

Interdisciplinary Toxicology

The Journal of Institute of Experimental Pharmacology of Slovak Academy of Sciences

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 2.36

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.580
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 1.134

Cited By


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 152 148 12
PDF Downloads 86 84 4