Juliana Moreira Mendonça-Gomes a , Ives Charlie-Silva b , Abraão Tiago Batista Guimarães c , Fernanda Neves Estrela c , Marilia Freitas Calmon d , Rafael Nava Miceli e , Paulo R.S. Sanches f , Cíntia Bittar d , Paula Rahal d , Eduardo M. Cilli f , Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim Ahmed g , Christoph F.A. Vogel h , Guilherme Malafaia c , i , j , ∗
20 July 2021
Knowledge about how the COVID-19 pandemic can affect aquatic wildlife is still extremely limited, and no effect of SARS-CoV-2 or its structural constituents on invertebrate models has been reported so far. Thus, we investigated the presence of the 2019-new coronavirus in different urban wastewater samples and, later, evaluated the behavioral and biochemical effects of the exposure of Culex quinquefasciatus larvae to two SARS-CoV-2 spike protein peptides (PSPD-2002 and PSPD-2003) synthesized in our laboratory. Initially, our results show the contamination of wastewater by the new coronavirus, via RT-qPCR on the viral N1 gene. On the other hand, our study shows that short-term exposure (48 h) to a low concentration (40 μg/L) of the synthesized peptides induced changes in the locomotor and the olfactory-driven behavior of the C. quinquefascitus larvae, which were associated with increased production of ROS and AChE activity (cholinesterase effect). To our knowledge, this is the first study that reports the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the larval phase of a freshwater invertebrate species. The results raise concerns at the ecological level where the observed biological effects may lead to drastic consequences.