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Contaminants of emerging concern affect Trichoplusia ni growth and development on artificial diets and a key host plant.


Many countries are utilizing reclaimed wastewater for agriculture because drought, rising temperatures, and expanding human populations are increasing water demands. Unfortunately, wastewater often contains biologically active, pseudopersistent pharmaceuticals, even after treatment. Runoff from farms and output from wastewater treatment plants also contribute high concentrations of pharmaceuticals to the environment. This study assessed the effects of common pharmaceuticals on an agricultural pest, Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Larvae were reared on artificial diets spiked with contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) at environmentally relevant concentrations. Trichoplusia ni showed increased developmental time and mortality when reared on artificial diets containing antibiotics, hormones, or a mixture of contaminants. Mortality was also increased when T. ni were reared on tomatoes grown hydroponically with the same concentrations of antibiotics. The antibiotic-treated plants translocated ciprofloxacin through their tissues to roots, shoots, and leaves. Microbial communities of T. ni changed substantially between developmental stages and when exposed to CECs in their diets. Our results suggest that use of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation of crops can affect the developmental biology and microbial communities of an insect of agricultural importance.

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