Arsenic Induced Patterns of Auto-Grooming Response Over Time in Macrobrachium lamarrei: A Study on Behavioural Plasticity

Research Article

Austin J Environ Toxicol. 2021; 7(1): 1037.

Arsenic Induced Patterns of Auto-Grooming Response Over Time in Macrobrachium lamarrei: A Study on Behavioural Plasticity

Munshi C1*, Das D2, Biswas P3, Sen K3, Mondal N4, Mukherjee S4, Bhowmick R3, Kundu P5 and Bhattacharya S6

1Bengal Institute of Technology and Management, Santiniketan, India

2Department of Microbiology, Raiganj University, Raiganj, India

3Department of Botany, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, India

4Department of Zoology, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, India

5Midnapore College, Medinipur, India

6Former Professor, Department of Zoology, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, India

*Corresponding author: Chayan Munshi, Bengal Institute of Technology and Management, Santiniketan, India

Received: March 30, 2021; Accepted: April 21, 2021; Published: April 28, 2021


Behavioural toxicity is a very applicable area in the vast field of ecotoxicology where, assessment of the alteration of behaviour is an effective tool to evaluate neural activity in an organism. In our present study, we have shown that arsenic trioxide exposure can stimulate repetitive grooming activity in a freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium lamarrei; however, over time the organism can modulate the grooming performances to less. We predict that repetition in the grooming behaviour is a case of neurotoxicity by arsenic and induction of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within a short period of exposure time.

Keywords: Repetitive grooming; Neurotoxicity; Behavioural toxicity; Stress; ASD


Behavioural plasticity is an area of concern for many behavioural biologists. Research on the effect of pollutants and climate change on the behaviour of animals have taken an important place in the area of ethological research. Heavy metal contamination in the aquatic ecosystems is known to affect the normal neuronal activity in the organisms residing in that habitat, which eventually results in the induction of abnormal behavioural patterns. In the previous work by Munshi and Bhattacharya (2020) [1], notable enhancement of autogrooming (grooming) activity has been reported in Macrobrachium lamarrei (a freshwater prawn), due to a certain dose of non-lethal arsenic trioxide (24 hours of exposure). Arsenic is a well-known neurotoxicant [2]. In the present study, we have continued the study up to 72 hours of exposure time to evaluate the grooming response pattern over time. The aim of the study was to analyses, whether the organisms is effectively coping up with the contaminated environment and adjusting the time budget of grooming act or not. Behavioural toxicology is an emerging area in the field of ecotoxicology [3]. Analysis of the behavioural markers are very reliable tools in the area of neurobiological or neuroethological research. Normally, grooming behaviour in mammals has been studied as a behavioural marker of neuropsychiatric disorders [4]. In fact, repetitive grooming behaviour is an indication of autism spectrum disorders [5]. However, behaviour analysis in the area of environmental toxicology is a promising field in organismal research. Heavy metals are already given serious attention due to its adverse role in creating the neurological disorders [6].


Analysis of the alteration of auto-grooming behaviour in Macrobrachium lamarrei was done by assessing the grooming activity in the prawns in respect to spent time. Prawns were sampled from the natural ponds, which is the natural habitat of these prawns. Collected prawns were maintained in glass aquarium and acclimatized in arsenic free, filtered water for 15 days. Food was provided ad libitum during the acclimatization period. After this time, the grooming activity of 19 prawns were documented in the arsenic free water; this is our control group. Half of the prawn population used for the study were gravid. Our study has sample size n=19. The same prawns were transferred to the experimental aquarium containing 1.7-ppm concentration of arsenic trioxide. The grooming activity after 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours were documented; these are our three experimental groups. The behavioural documentation was done by considering a period of 300 seconds (5 minutes) after 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours. During the whole process, the temperature was maintained between 25-27 °C. All the graphical plots are plotted using, R4.0 and Python 3.8 programming language [7,8] and Microsoft excel.

Results and Discussion

From the previous work of Munshi and Bhattacharya (2020) [1], we have considered the fact that Macrobrachium lamarrei has a complex grooming pattern which is simplified into two major types: Anterior Grooming (AG) and Posterior Grooming (PG). We defined the terminologies that were devised in our previous work [1]. In this article, we have discussed alterations in the magnitude of AG and PG in this species, over time. The magnitude of grooming (AG and PG) is measured in respect to time spent.

The prawns showed variability in AG and PG behavioural pattern. Compared to the control group, prawns in 24 hours of arsenic treatment had an elevation in the level of AG (1.2 folds), which was approximately same in 48 hours of arsenic treatment (1.15 folds). However, after 72 hours of treatment, the level of AG declined below the control, which is half of the level of AG in the control prawns. However, prawns after 24 hours of treatment had the increment of PG (17.6 folds) compared to the control. The level of PG after 48 hours and 72 hours of treatment was enhanced compared to the control but are roughly same (10.3 and 9.6 folds respectively). Prawns in the control group had greater levels of AG than PG (12.6 folds). However, after 24 hours of exposure, prawns showed greater level of PG than AG (1.15 folds). Again, prawns after 48 hours of exposure had greater level of AG than PG (1.4 folds). Lastly, the level of PG in prawns is again greater than AG after 72 hours of exposure (1.5 folds) (Figure 1A).

Citation: Munshi C, Das D, Biswas P, Sen K, Mondal N, Mukherjee S, et al. Arsenic Induced Patterns of Auto-Grooming Response Over Time in Macrobrachium lamarrei: A Study on Behavioural Plasticity. Austin J Environ Toxicol. 2021; 7(1): 1037.