Combining time-resolved transcriptomics and proteomics data for Adverse Outcome Pathway refinement in ecotoxicology

Ruben Bakker, Jacintha Ellers, Dick Roelofs, Riet Vooijs, Tjeerd Dijkstra, Cornelis A.M. van Gestel, Katja M. Hoedjes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Conventional Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) of pesticide pollution is based on soil concentrations and apical endpoints, such as the reproduction of test organisms, but has traditionally disregarded information along the organismal response cascade leading to an adverse outcome. The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework includes response information at any level of biological organization, providing opportunities to use intermediate responses as a predictive read-out for adverse outcomes instead. Transcriptomic and proteomic data can provide thousands of data points on the response to toxic exposure. Combining multiple omics data types is necessary for a comprehensive overview of the response cascade and, therefore, AOP development. However, it is unclear if transcript and protein responses are synchronized in time or time lagged. To understand if analysis of multi-omics data obtained at the same timepoint reveal one synchronized response cascade, we studied time-resolved shifts in gene transcript and protein abundance in the springtail Folsomia candida, a soil ecotoxicological model, after exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid. We analyzed transcriptome and proteome data every 12 h up to 72 h after onset of exposure. The most pronounced shift in both transcript and protein abundances was observed after 48 h exposure. Moreover, cross-correlation analyses indicate that most genes displayed the highest correlation between transcript and protein abundances without a time-lag. This demonstrates that a combined analysis of transcriptomic and proteomic data from the same time-point can be used for AOP improvement. This data will promote the development of biomarkers for the presence of neonicotinoid insecticides or chemicals with a similar mechanism of action in soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161740
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date26 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (TTW) (Project number 15494 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Collembola
  • Mechanisms of action
  • Multi-omics data
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor (nAChR)
  • Time series


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