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Toxicity and mutagenicity of the natural dye alizarin

Grant number: 23/07768-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2023
Effective date (End): October 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Mutagenesis
Principal Investigator:Gisela de Aragão Umbuzeiro
Grantee:Amanda Rocha Rodrigues
Host Institution: Faculdade de Tecnologia (FT). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Limeira , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):23/18005-0 - Assessment of the toxicity and genotoxicity of the natural anthraquinone alizarin in Mytilus spp., BE.EP.IC


Alizarin dye (1,2-dihydroxyanthraquinone) is an anthraquinone usually extracted from Rubia tinctorum plant. Madder, a dye widely used in textile dyeing and that has mostly alizarin in its composition, can also be extracted from this plant. Thus, alizarin can reach the aquatic ecosystem through the release of effluents from the textile industries. Alizarin presented acute toxicity to the aquatic plant Lemna gibba and phytoplankton microalgae, and photoinduced toxicity to Hyalella azteca. In addition, alizarin showed mutagenicity in the Ames test and was carcinogenic to mice. Therefore, it is important to provide more information about the adverse effects that alizarin can cause in different organisms, including data on the response after exposure to different light conditions. In the aquatic environment, the photosensitization reaction of anthraquinones can generate reactive species of oxygen. In order to obtain high quality ecotoxicological data, it is necessary to observe the reliability and relevance criteria proposed by the Criteria for reporting and evaluating ecotoxicity data (CRED). Therefore, this project, based on CRED, aims to evaluate the toxicity of alizarin to the alga Raphidocelis subcapitata, the microcrustacean Daphnia similis, the marine amphipod Parhyale hawaiensis and the Danio rerio fish. With these results, a Predicted No Effect Concentration (PNEC) will be proposed for alizarin. Alizarin photoinduction will be evaluated under three conditions (light, dark and photoperiod) for D. similis and P. hawaiensis. Mutagenicity will be verified in vivo by the micronucleus test with P. hawaiensis, since only its in vitro mutagenicity has been confirmed in the literature.

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