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Effects of estuarine sediment contamination on feeding and on key physiological functions of the polychaete Hediste diversicolor: laboratory and in situ assays
Moreira, S.M.; Lima, I.; Ribeiro, R.; Guilhermino, L. (2006). Effects of estuarine sediment contamination on feeding and on key physiological functions of the polychaete Hediste diversicolor: laboratory and in situ assays. Aquat. Toxicol. 78(2): 186-201.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Ecology; Estuaries; Sediments; Toxicity; Hediste diversicolor (O.F. Müller, 1776) [WoRMS]; Marine; Brackish water

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  • Moreira, S.M., more
  • Lima, I.
  • Ribeiro, R.
  • Guilhermino, L.

    This study aimed at integrating postexposure feeding and some biochemical parameters in the responses of the estuarine polychaeta, Hediste diversicolor, to controlled laboratory exposure conditions and to in situ exposures scenario of sediment contamination. Since H. diversicolor feeding may be considered as a major rate-limiting step in the processing of detritus in European estuaries, a reduction in feeding activity may have implications not only at the individual and population level of the species but also in detritus processing and in organic matter decomposition rates at the ecosystem level. The biochemical parameters were chosen as indicators of four key physiological functions: neurotransmission, metabolic condition, detoxification processes and antioxidant defences. The Mira and Sado estuaries, located in the Southwest coast of Portugal and classified as undisturbed and impacted, respectively, were selected as sites for this study. A significant depression in H. diversicolor postexposure feeding (from 30 to 70%) was consistently detected in all impacted sediments, supporting the sensitivity and responsiveness of feeding as a sublethal toxicity endpoint. Alongside with a reduced energy intake, an increased rate of organisms’ anaerobic metabolism, as evidenced by an enhancement of lactate dehydrogenase activity (up to 1.5-fold), suggested a rapid need of additional energy to ameliorate chemical stress. Moreover, oxidative stress was shown to be an important mechanism of toxicity of the impacted sediments in H. diversicolor, as evidenced by a marked reduction in the glutathione redox status (up to 6.5-fold) and an increase in lipid peroxides levels (up to 2.3-fold) in organisms exposed to the most impacted sediments. Results of the in situ assay, conducted to assess the ecological relevance of sediment laboratory toxicity estimates and their application to make valid field extrapolations, revealed a lack of agreement in the response of catalase in organisms exposed to moderate impacted sediments.

    Our results support the utility of integrating responses at individual and sub-individual level to evaluate potential toxicant-induced changes in key physiological functions of H. diversicolor and to interpret their potential ecological consequences.

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