Transcriptomic sequencing data illuminate insecticide-induced physiological stress mechanisms in aquatic non-target invertebrates
Pesticides are major agricultural stressors for freshwater species. Exposure to pesticides can disrupt the biotic integrity of freshwater ecosystems and impair associated ecosystem functions. Unfortunately, physiological mechanisms through which pesticides affect aquatic organisms are largely unknown. For example, the widely-used insecticide chlorantraniliprole is supposed to be highly selective for target pest species, i.e. Lepidoptera (butterflies), but its effect in aquatic non-target taxa is poorly studied. Using RNA-sequencing data, we quantified the insecticide effect on three aquatic invertebrate species: the caddisfly Lepidostoma basale, the mayfly Ephemera danica and the amphipod Gammarus pulex. Further, we tested how the insecticide-induced transcriptional response is modulated by biotic interaction between the two leaf-shredding species L. basale and G. pulex. While G. pulex was only weakly affected by chlorantraniliprole exposure, we detected strong transcriptional responses in L. basale and E. danica, implying that the stressor receptors are conserved between the target taxon Lepidoptera and other insect groups. We found in both insect species evidence for alterations of the developmental program. If transcriptional changes in the developmental program induce alterations in emergence phenology, pronounced effects on food web dynamics in a cross-ecosystem context are expected.