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Organochlorine contaminants in flounder (Platichthys flesus) and mullet (Mugil cephalus) from Douro estuary, and their use as sentinel species for environmental monitoring
Ferreira, M.; Antunes, P.; Gil, O.; Vale, C.; Reis-Henriques, M.A. (2004). Organochlorine contaminants in flounder (Platichthys flesus) and mullet (Mugil cephalus) from Douro estuary, and their use as sentinel species for environmental monitoring. Aquat. Toxicol. 69(4): 347-357.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Environmental monitoring; Flounder; Mugil cephalus Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Platichthys flesus (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; ANE, Portugal [Marine Regions]; Marine; Brackish water; Fresh water

Authors  Top 
  • Ferreira, M.
  • Antunes, P.
  • Gil, O.
  • Vale, C.
  • Reis-Henriques, M.A., correspondent

    In order to monitor the presence of organic pollutants in Douro estuary (NW Portugal), two sentinel fish species, grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) and flounder (Platichthys flesus), were periodically sampled from May 2001 to April 2002. At all sampling periods, several specimens of both species were allowed to depurate in clean sea water. Levels of PCBs and DDTs were quantified in liver and muscle of both species. The accumulation of PCBs was higher in muscle of mullet, with a maximum of 345 ng/g dw, than in flounder, with a maximum 52 ng/g dw. In the liver, flounder showed the highest levels (811 ng/g dw). Of the 18 congeners analysed, CBs 180 (hepta), 153 and 138 (hexachlorobiphenyls) were predominant in the tissue of both species. The maximum concentration of tDDT was measured in flounder liver (301 ng/g dw). In contrast, a 10-fold higher tDDT was recorded in mullet muscle (63-69 ng/g dw and 8-16 ng/g dw for mullet and flounder, respectively). The hepatic ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) activity was periodically determined. Consistently, a 10-fold higher enzymatic activity was present in mullet in comparison with flounder (1536 pmol/min/mg protein in mullet and 156 pmol/min/mg protein in flounder). In mullet, no correlation could be found between EROD activity and gonado-somatic index (GSI) or hepato-somatic index (HSI). On the contrary, during the reproductive season, female flounder showed a negative correlation between EROD activity and GSI. Despite being in clean sea water for 1 month period, no significant decrease in the tissue content of PCBs and tDDT was found. However, mullet’s EROD activity followed a clear pattern, with a decrease enzymatic activity after being in captivity. Female flounder displayed a similar trend during the resting season. Yet, during the reproductive season, an increased EROD activity was recorded after being in captivity for 1 month, which may be associated with a modulation effect of steroids on CYP 1A1. Histological analyses of gonad revealed that 21% of male mullet displayed testis-ova, while no male flounder was found to show gonadal abnormalities. Overall, the study reports the accumulation of significant levels of PCBs and DDTs in the tissues of the studied species. It also provides important evidences supporting the use of grey mullet as a sentinel species for monitoring the presence of organic contaminants and xeno-estrogenic pollution in southern European estuaries.

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