Behavioural Toxicity of Arsenic Trioxide: Alteration in Auto-Grooming Behaviour of a Freshwater Prawn, Macrobrachium lamarrei

Research Article

Austin J Environ Toxicol. 2020; 6(1): 1029.

Behavioural Toxicity of Arsenic Trioxide: Alteration in Auto-Grooming Behaviour of a Freshwater Prawn, Macrobrachium lamarrei

Munshi C1* and Bhattacharya S1

Department of Zoology, Visva Bharati University, India

*Corresponding author: Munshi C, Department of Zoology, Visva Bharati University, 731235, India

Received: December 31, 2019; Accepted: January 22, 2020; Published: January 29, 2020


Auto-grooming is the act of cleaning body parts which is a robust behaviour in Macrobrachium lamarrei (Arthropoda: Crustacea: Decapoda), a highly abundant native freshwater prawn species in India. The first and fifth pairs of thoracic appendages are the major grooming appendages, which show prominent signs of adaptive modifications. Grooming activity in M. lamarrei is a complex pattern, which is streamlined into two major groups, Anterior Grooming (AG) and Posterior Grooming (PG), depending on the body area. Anterior grooming is broadly divided into Carapace Grooming (CG) and Ventral Cephalothorax Grooming (VCG) and Posterior Grooming is further divided into Ventral Abdomen Grooming (VAG) and Dorsal Abdomen Grooming (DAG).

Prawns were exposed to 1.72 ppm of arsenic trioxide for 15 days and the dose was found to be non lethal. Therefore, we selected this non-lethal concentration for a 24 h exposure schedule to study different grooming patterns. We report for the first time that 1.72 ppm of arsenic trioxide induced notable auto-grooming alteration in this species and the prawns were found to spend considerably more time to groom each body part compared to the control. It is concluded that grooming patterns are reliable indices of stress or sensitivity towards heavy metals in aquatic invertebrates.

Keywords: Behavioural Toxicology; Marobrachium lamarrei; Autogrooming


Innate behaviours are genetically programmed in animals and are performed in a specific sequence, ethologically termed as fixed action pattern. It is a fact that behaviour is an instant expression of neural activities. Recent researchers are emphasizing behavioural evaluation to assess the neural activity in an animal body. Therefore, recent trends in neurobiological research include the assessment of behavioural markers. Auto-grooming or grooming is the process of taking care of body surface by removing unwanted microscopic organisms and particulate matters from the body surface. However, research on rodent grooming activity unravelled a wide variety of its purposes; auto-grooming make the animals more detectable and less dangerous to nearby conspecifics and it is a potential action to attract mates in voles [1]. Grooming has been extensively studied in rodents, mainly mice. The fixed action pattern of grooming in mice was described as a cephalocaudal event, which implies that grooming occurs in a specific sequence, which starts from the head and then proceeds to the lower body and finally terminates at the tail [2,3]. Grooming activity is a robust innate behaviour in animals and is considered as a marker owing to its sensitivity to numerous stressors, several neuronal drugs (both anxiolytic and anxiogenic drugs) and hormones (steroids) [4]. In mammals abnormal grooming is established as a manifestation of neuropsychiatric disorder [5].

Among invertebrates, the decapod crustaceans are widely known for their auto-grooming behaviour. The thoracic appendages are essential in executing routine tasks like feeding, defence, mate guarding, locomotion and auto-grooming. These appendages are adapted to perform auto-grooming and microscopic structures on the appendages make them effective for minute grooming activities [6]. In Hawaiian river prawn, Macrobrachium grandimanus, the first and fifth pairs of pereiopods, third maxillipeds and the major chelipeds are mostly used for grooming [7]. Macrobrachium grandimanus adopt interesting mechanisms for auto-grooming such as scraping of the whole body, brushing of different parts and also selecting a specific part of the body, which needs to be groomed. In M. rosenbergii, auto-grooming is classified as a secondary behaviour, which was defined as less important to other behaviours like feeding, mating and aggression [8]. Grooming activity in invertebrates was studied in decapod crustaceans (prawns), which mainly concentrated on the adaptive modifications in the appendages for grooming different parts of the body. There are a few reports on considering auto-grooming as a marker in case of stress in invertebrates; Corophium volutator, an amphipod (crustacean) demonstrated change in grooming frequency due to pollutant exposure [9].

Macrobrachium lamarrei is a major freshwater prawn species in India and adjacent countries. It is found in all types of freshwater bodies; thus we have selected this species to consider as a model organism to study behavioural toxicology.We aimed to analyse and compare the behavioural pattern of M. lamarrei in arsenic free and arsenic contaminated water; precisely to note the alteration in grooming activity due to toxic metalloid exposure. As grooming is already indicated as an index of stress in mammals [10] we have focused to address grooming as an index of heavy metal induced stress, sensitivity and alteration of neural activity in aquatic invertebrates (Table 1). Enlists the behavioural effects of different contaminants on M. lamarrei.

Citation: Munshi C and Bhattacharya S. Behavioural Toxicity of Arsenic Trioxide: Alteration in Auto-Grooming Behaviour of a Freshwater Prawn, Macrobrachium lamarrei. Austin J Environ Toxicol. 2020; 6(1): 1029.