Metabolomic Responses of Green Alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Exposed to Sublethal Concentrations of Inorganic and Methylmercury
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c08416
Metabolomics characterizes low-molecular-weight molecules involved in different biochemical reactions and provides an integrated assessment of the physiological state of an organism. By using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry targeted metabolomics, we examined the response of green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to sublethal concentrations of inorganic mercury (IHg) and monomethylmercury (MeHg). We quantified the changes in the levels of 93 metabolites preselected based on the disturbed metabolic pathways obtained in a previous transcriptomics study. Metabolites are downstream products of the gene transcription; hence, metabolite quantification provided information about the biochemical status of the algal cells exposed to Hg compounds. The results showed that the alga adjusts its metabolism during 2 h exposure to 5 × 10-9 and 5 × 10-8 mol L-1 IHg and MeHg by increasing the level of various metabolites involved in amino acid and nucleotide metabolism, photorespiration, and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, as well as the metabolism of fatty acids, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Most of the metabolic perturbations in the alga were common for IHg and MeHg treatments. However, the exposure to IHg resulted in more pronounced perturbations in the fatty acid and TCA metabolism as compared with the exposure to MeHg. The observed metabolic perturbations were generally consistent with our previously published transcriptomics results for C. reinhardtii exposed to the comparable level of IHg and MeHg. The results highlight the potential of metabolomics for toxicity evaluation, especially to detect effects at an early stage of exposure prior to their physiological appearance.