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Impact assessment of agricultural inputs into a Mediterranean coastal lagoon (Mar Menor, SE Spain) on transplanted clams (Ruditapes decussatus) by biochemical and physiological responses

September 30, 2013

The Mar Menor is a coastal lagoon threatened by the development of intensive agriculture in the surrounding areas. Large amounts of pesticides from these areas are discharged into El Albujón, a permanent watercourse flowing into the lagoon.

We have used a multi-biomarker approach to assess the biological effects of agricultural pollution on a bivalve species. Biomarkers indicative of neurotoxicity (acetylcholinesterase, AChE), oxidative stress (catalase, CAT; glutathione reductase, GR and lipid peroxidation, LPO), phase II biotransformation of xenobiotics (glutathione S-transferase, GST) and physiological stress (scope for growth, SFG) were measured in clams transplanted to four sites of the lagoon (two reference sites and two sites affected by the dispersion of the effluent of the El Albujón), for exposure periods of 7 and 22 days.

The hazards of this effluent were also examined by simultaneously measuring up to 83 contaminants (pesticides, PCBs, PAHs and others) in samples of fresh water from the watercourse mouth and seawater from the deployed sites, as well as the bioaccumulation of organochlorinated compounds and PAHs in the transplanted animals.

Biomarker responses showed marked differences between reference and affected sites after 7 and 22 days. However it was only after 22 days that Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of the biomarker responses distinguished between clams deployed in sites affected by the dispersion of the effluent of the watercourse and those from the reference sites. The chemical analysis of water showed high concentrations of pesticides close to El Albujón watercourse mouth, with the greatest input flux corresponding to the organophosphate chlorpyrifos, followed by pendimethalin and naphthalene, and at lower levels acenaphthene, terbuthylazine-desethyl and chlorpyrifos-methyl. In this regard, PCA analysis showed that the biological effects of the mixture of pesticides in caged clams after 22 days were reduced levels of AchE and SFG and increased levels of GR and phase II GST activity. An Integrated Biomarker Response index was calculated from the combination of these biomarkers, proving useful for the assessment of the impact of agricultural pollution in caged clams

Campillo J A, Albentosa M, Valdés N J, Moreno-González R, León V M, in press. Impact assessment of agricultural inputs into a Mediterranean coastal lagoon (Mar Menor, SE Spain) on transplanted clams (Ruditapes decussatus) by biochemical and physiological responses, Aquatic Toxicology, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.09.012. Article.

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