|Daphnia magna - female adult|
Straus, 1820 
The use of Daphnia magna as an experimental animal for such purposes is advantageous in many respects. Daphnids are small, reaching a size of five mm, so that a great many can be reared in a small space. They have a relatively short life span, which reaches a maximum of about two months when they are reared at 20°C. Daphnids are easy to culture, requiring only water containing bacteria or their equivalent for food. They can be grown individually in small bottles or in mass culture in large aquaria. They mature early, giving birth to young within their first week of life. After their first brood, they give rise to new broods every two or three days throughout the remainder of their lives. An average of twenty or more young may be produced in each brood. Each female who lives to a ripe old age can bear four hundred or more offspring. Again, all the young from one female are genetically like the mother if produced parthenogenically, and reproduction can be limited to parthenogenesis if the proper conditions are maintained. Further, daphnids are representatives of a class of animals that serve as food for many fish, especially while the fish are young. Fish do not remain in water where their food supply has been depleted. Daphnids would be affected if there was something toxic added to the water, therefore fish would leave and the Daphnia would die. For these reasons Daphnia prove satisfactory for testing on.
D. magna is specified to be used in the OECD Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals, Tests No. 202 "Daphnia sp., Acute Immobilisation Test", and Test No. 211 "Daphnia magna Reproduction Test". Test No. 202 is a 48 hour acute toxicity study, where young Daphnia are exposed to varying concentrations of the substance under test and the EC50 determined. Other Daphnia species than D. magna may occasionally be used, but labs mostly use D. magna as standard.
Test No. 211 is a 21-day chronic toxicity test, at the end of which, the total number of living offspring produced per parent animal alive at the end of the test is assessed, to determine the lowest observed effect concentration of the test substance.
Some strains of D. magna that do not produce males may reproduce by automictic parthenogenesis, in which two haploid cells produced by meiosis (reduction division) fuse to produce a female zygote without fertilisation. This tends to make the resulting daughters homozygous, which may be deleterious.
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As it is easy to culture, D. magna is widely grown as fish food.
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