Nadja Brun


Postdoctoral Fellow


Research groups


My research centers around the question of how human-made contaminants in surface water affect fish behavior.

I am particularly excited about investigating the underlying biological mechanisms that lead to behavioral changes. The current understanding is that contaminants can alter behavior directly by disrupting neuronal processes or indirectly by interfering with the neuroendocrine system. In addition to that, I suggest the disruptions in energy metabolism play a key role in neuronal functioning and behavior. Brain cells have a high metabolic activity and are supported by a continuous supply of oxygen and glucose from the blood. It is thus conceivable that contaminants that disrupt glucose metabolism affect neuronal processes and behavior. How a disbalance in energy metabolism is tied to behavioral changes in fish - such as feeding, hunting, diurnal activity, and stress response - is largely uncharted territory. Yet this is crucial to understand as many contaminants in surface waters have the potential to disrupt energy homeostasis. Novel insights into biological mechanisms linked to behavior will not only guide the assessment of risk at contaminated sites and the design of less harmful chemicals but also widen our understanding of fundamental biological processes.


Fent K, Brun NR, Zhang K, Zhao Y. 2024. Effects of Pharmaceuticals. Toxicology of Fishes. 2nd Edition. CRC Press.

Hunting ER, England, SJ, Koh K, Lawson DA, Brun NR, Robert D. 2022. Synthetic fertilizers alter floral biophysical cues and bumblebee foraging behavior. PNAS Nexus. 1;5:230.

Yadetie F, Brun NR, Giebichenstein J, Dmoch K, Hylland K, Borgå K, Karlsen OA, Goksøyr A. 2022. Transcriptome responses in copepods Calanus finmarchicus, Calanus glacialis and Calanus hyperboreus exposed to phenanthrene and benzo[a]pyrene. Marine Genomics. Aug 12;65:100981.

Brun NR*, Salanga MC*,  Mora-Zamorano FX,  Lamb DC, Goldstone, JV, Stegeman JJ. 2021. Orphan cytochrome P450 20A1 CRISPR/Cas 9 mutants and neurobehavioral phenotypes in zebrafish. Scientific Reports. 11, 23892. *authors contributed equally.

Brun NR, Panlilio JM, Zhang K, Zhao Y, Ivashkin E, Stegeman JJ, Goldstone JV. 2021. Developmental exposure to non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls promotes sensory deficits and disrupts dopaminergic and GABAergic signaling in zebrafishCommunications Biology. 4, 1129.

Hunting ER, Schrama M, Rozen D, Joenssen C, Brun NR. 2021. Effect of carcass contamination on necrophagous invertebrate performanceEcological Processes. 10, 57.

Zhang K, Liang J, Brun NR, Zhao Y, Werdich AA. 2021. Rapid Zebrafish Behavioral Profiling Assay Accelerates the Identification of Environmental Neurodevelopmental Toxicants. Environmental Science & Technology. 55, 1919–1929.

Yadetie F, Brun NR, Vieweg I, Nahrgang J, Karlsen OA, Goksøyr A. 2021. Transcriptome responses in polar cod (Boreogadus saida) liver slice culture exposed to benzo[a]pyrene and ethynylestradiol: insights into anti-estrogenic effects. Toxicology In Vitro. 75, 105193.

Celander MC, Goldstone JV, Brun NR, Clark B, Jayaraman S, Nacci D, Stegeman JJ. 2021. Resistance to Cyp3a induction by polychlorinated biphenyls, including non-dioxin-like PCB153, in gills of killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) from New Bedford Harbor. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology. 83, 103580.

Salanga MC, Brun NR, Francolini R, Stegeman JJ, Goldstone JV. 2019. CRISPR-Cas9 mutated pregnane x receptor (pxr) retains pregnenolone-induced expression of cytochrome p450 family 3, subfamily A, polypeptide 65 (cyp3a65) in zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae. Toxicological Sciences, 174, 51-62.

Brun NR, van Hage P, Hunting ER, Haramis A-PG, Vink SC, Vijver MG, Schaaf MJM, Tudorache C. 2019. Polystyrene nanoplastics disrupt glucose metabolism and cortisol levels with a possible link to behavioural changes in larval zebrafishCommunications Biology. 2, 382.

Ivashkin E, Melnikova V, Kurtova A, Brun NR, Obukhova A, Khabarova M, Yakusheff A, Adameyko I, Gribble K, Voronezhskaya E. 2019. Transglutaminase activity determines nuclear localization of serotonin immunoreactivity in the early embryos of invertebrates and vertebratesACS Chemical Neuroscience. 10, 3888–3899.

Bosker T, Bouwman LJ, Brun NR, Behrens P, Vijver MG. 2019. Microplastics accumulate on pores in seed capsule and delay germination and root growth of the terrestrial vascular plant Lepidium sativumChemosphere. 226: 774-781.

Jaikumar G, Brun NR, Vijver MG, Bosker T. 2019. Reproductive toxicity of primary and secondary microplastics to three Cladocerans during chronic exposureEnvironmental Pollution. 249: 638-646.

Brun NR, Fields P, Horsfield S, Mirbahai L, Ebert D, Colbourne JK, Fent K. 2019. Mixtures of aluminum and indium induce more than additive phenotypic and toxicogenomic responses in Daphnia magnaEnvironmental Science & Technology. 53, 1639–1649.

Zhai Y, Brun NR, Bundschuh M, Schrama M, Hin E, Vijver MG, Hunting ER. 2018. Microbially-mediated indirect effects of silver nanoparticles on aquatic invertebratesAquatic Sciences. 80, 44.

Jaikumar G, Baas J, Brun NR, Vijver MG, Bosker T. 2018. Acute sensitivity of three Cladoceran species to different types of microplastics in combination with thermal stress. Environmental Pollution. 239, 733-740.

Brun NR, Koch BEV, Varela M, Peijnenburg WJGM, Spaink HP, Vijver MG. 2018. Nanoparticles induce dermal and intestinal innate immune system responses in zebrafish embryosEnvironmental Science: Nano. 5, 904-916.

Brun NR, Beenakker MMT, Hunting ER, Ebert D, Vijver MG. 2017. Brood pouch-mediated polystyrene nanoparticle uptake during Daphnia magna embryogenesisNanotoxicology. 11, 1059-1069. Open Access.

Van Pomeren M, Peijnenburg WGM, Brun NR, Vijver MG. 2017. A novel experimental and modelling strategy to nanoparticle specific toxicity testing enabling the use of low quantitiesInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health4(11), 1348.

Veneman WJ, Spaink HP, Brun NR, Bosker T, Vijver MG. 2017. Pathway analysis of systemic transcriptome responses to injected polystyrene particles in zebrafish larvaeAquatic Toxicology. 190, 112-120.

Van Pomeren M, Brun NR, Peijnenburg WGM, Vijver MG. 2017. Exploring uptake and biodistribution of polystyrene particles in zebrafish embryos at different developmental stagesAquatic Toxicology. 190, 40-45.

Christen V, Faltermann S, Brun NR, Kunz PY, Fent K. 2017. Cytotoxicity and molecular effects of biocidal disinfectants (quaternary ammonia, glutaraldehyde, poly(hexamethylene biguanide) hydrochloride PHMB) and their mixtures in vitro and in zebrafish eleuthero-embryosScience of the Total Environment. 589, 1204–1218.

Brun NR, Wehrli B, Fent K. 2016. Ecotoxicological assessment of solar cell leachates: Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells show higher activity than organic photovoltaic (OPV) cellsScience of the Total Environment. 543, 703-714.

Brun NR, Christen V, Furrer G, Fent K. 2014. Indium and indium tin oxide induce endoplasmic reticulum stress and oxidative stress in zebrafish (Danio rerio)Environmental Science & Technology, 48, 11679-11687.

Brun NR, Lenz M, Wehrli B, Fent K. 2014. Comparative effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles and dissolved zinc on zebrafish embryos and eleuthero-embryos: importance of zinc ionsScience of the Total Environment. 476-477, 657–666.